A Report on the Implementation of the National Rural Livelihoods Mission – Aajeevika: In Tamil Nadu

By LEAD Research Team

This is the first of a two part post:
This post introduces the reader to the National Rural Livelihoods Mission in India, focusing on how Tamil Nadu has adopted and internalized the national scheme within its existing infrastructures.The second part will look at how the program will be implemented in Tamil Nadu, its particular strengths, weaknesses, and achievements.


The National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM), budgeted at $5.1 Billion, is a post-modern initiative by the Government of India (GoI) to add value to the livelihoods of rural poor, through the formation and empowerment of local institutions. The NRLM is a mutation of the Swarna Jayanti Swarozgar Yojna (SGSY) scheme, with two important strategic differences: i) More autonomy to the States to formulate their poverty reduction plan ii) The central government will provide a strong support structure and rigid reporting framework.

Aajeevika in Tamil Nadu

Given that Tamil Nadu is a leader in SHG formation, the Tamil Nadu State Rural Livelihoods Program (TNSRLM) can be expected to be executed without many complications. But first, let us consider what exactly the deliverables of the TNSRLM are, and who are going to be the implementers.
The mission of TNSRLM is “to bring the poorest of poor and unreached families into the SHG network, establishing and strengthening the self-managed institutions of the poor by enhancing their capacity and thereby promote livelihoods with incremental income at the household level through sustainable Community Based Organizations.”

The deliverables:

  • Formation of an effective autonomous implementation structure that facilitates strengthening of the rural institutional platforms.
  • Inclusion of all the eligible poor, into the community based pro-poor village institution.
  • Augmenting the corpus of the Institutions of the rural poor to leverage bank credit at affordable rate of interest.
    Pooling of funds and convergence of other services through dovetailing of schemes for the development of the poor.
  • Incremental income in various livelihood activities and investment by the poor in productive assets.
Enhancing skills of youth for gainful self-employment / wage employment.
Based on the deliverables above, the following are core areas of focus:
a) Social Inclusion and universal social mobilization.
b) Building Institutional platform of the poor.
c) Financial Inclusion
d) Economic Inclusion – Building sustainable livelihoods for the poor.
e) Skill and Placement
f) Last Mile Service Delivery (Through community professionals and Social Entrepreneurs).
g) Leveraging resources through dovetailing and convergence with all schemes of Government.

5. Project Area and Scope

TNSRLM will be implemented in all the districts in Tamil Nadu apart from Chennai. Apart from the NRLM, intensive investments will be made as part of the World Bank supported National Rural Livelihoods Project (NRLP) in 16 blocks in 4 Districts. These intensive livelihood investments are pilot programs and will be scaled up if ‘proof of concept’ is visible after implementation. If so, the rest of the State will adopt the approach in terms of staff structure and community investment support.
The Intensive blocks under TNSRLM selected with consideration of BPL families within the district and the following is the selection criteria:
  • Percentage of Agricultural Labourers to total main workers
  • Rural female literacy rate.
  • Industrial backwardness.
  • Infant Mortality rate
  • Number of BPL families Percentage of SC and ST population

6. Implementation

 project area

Tamil Nadu, a pioneer in Self Help Group formation will implement the NRLM through the Tamil Nadu Corporation for Development of Women – TNCDW. TNCDW has done an impressive job in the state in regards to Self Help Group (SHG) formation under two of its programs – Mahalir Thittam, and the Pudhu Vaazhvu Project.

The Mahalir Thittam is a socio-economic empowerment programme for women. The scheme focuses on SHG formation primarily by partnering with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). Mahalir Thittam was started in Dharmapuri district with assistance from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The Pudhu Vaazhvu Project is an empowerment and poverty alleviation project conducted by the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department with World Bank assistance. The majority of the NRLM in Tamil Nadu will be implemented through the Pudhu Vaazhvu scheme.

In the next posting, we will see how the program is being implemented, and what is its effectiveness.