Wealth creation by self-employed entrepreneurs is the only way the grassroots economy can fully contribute to the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. For this to become a reality, the government is looking at the vast untapped potential of industries like pottery and incense-making. This is how women of the vast rural population that Indians living in cities call “migrants” will be empowered in the COVID-19 era.
New MSME schemes to boost grassroots economy
In this vein, the Ministry of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) has declared new schemes that include pottery and beekeeping. The MSME Ministry is also doubling support to artisans involved in making agarbatti (incense sticks) in a bid to be more Vocal for Local. These self-employment-oriented schemes are exactly what the grassroots economy needs for recovering from the recession with our heads held high. The eventual aim of these schemes is to make India self-reliant in these industries while also accounting for export value.
Incentives for Potters
The MSME ministry plans to extend Rs. 19.50 crores for 6,075 potters. This sum will be spent on a Centre of Excellence, product development and skilling. An additional Rs. 50 crore has been set aside for setting up clusters for artists specializing in Terracotta and Red clay pottery, under the ministry’s revamped SFURTI scheme. The MSME Ministry started SFURTI, or Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries, in 2014 and is re-energising it in 2020 to boost the grassroots economy.
The government is promising potters a variety of tools from a pottery wheel and granulators to training. Traditional potters will work the wheels while non-potters from SHGs who still fancy creating things will get a hang of Press Pottery. Jigger-Jolly training is also on the cards for migrants and unemployed rural youth.
Sweet deal for beekeepers
Another scheme for the micro beekeeping industry will provide Rs. 13 crores in this financial year for developing a best-in-class institute. This Centre of Excellence will research new honey-based products. The scheme will fund support for 2,050 artisans including 1,250 from SHGs and 800 migrant workers. The SFURTI scheme will lay aside another Rs. 50 crores for more “beekeeping activity” and clusters.
The Ministry will also tap into the pool of adivasis who are organically attuned to beekeeping. This scheme will provide bee boxes and tools. Migrant workers living in Prime Minister Gareeb Kalyan Rozgar Abhiyaan (PMGKRA) districts will get the necessary tools and beekeeping training.
If these new self-employment schemes are even partly implemented according to plan, and the funds reach the beneficiaries rather than disappearing on the way, the grassroots economy will thrive in the post-COVID era.