Imphal: A total of 44 Self Help Groups (SHGs) were on Saturday provided loans at Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav observed at Uchekon Nongpok Community Hall in Imphal East.

Chaired by Manipur Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister Thongam Biswajit Singh, the observation event was organised by Block Resource Centre-Start Up Village Entrepreneurship Programme (SVEP) under the Manipur State Rural Livelihood Mission.

Besides doling out loans to SHGs, a cash award of Rs 1 lakh for the best performing SHG was also conferred upon a group from Sawombung Block.

Speaking as the chief guest, Biswajit Singh said establishing self-help groups in rural areas aims to strengthen women’s empowerment. This will eliminate unemployment and enhance the socio-economic status of the people in rural areas, he added.

The minister said besides all the support and help from the government and other quarters, the real power behind the sustenance and strengthening of the SHGs depends entirely on the determination and hard work of the members.

Expressing support to young entrepreneurs of the state, the minister said an entrepreneur can help in generating employment in our society.

Speaking on the issue of training under capacity building for SHGs under different departments, he said this training will enhance the value of their products in the market. He further expressed the need to look into the issue of the lack of a platform to sell their products.

Biswajit Singh also talked about the Mission for Economic Empowerment of Traditional Artisans & Craftsmen (MEETAC) and its importance for the SHGs. He asked the SHG members to contact the MEETAC and look for ways to enhance the value of their products.

The minister added that the Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj has taken up various developmental activities, including tree plantation drives, as part of the observation.

The minister informed the gathering that the ‘Azaadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ is a country-wide campaign initiated by the Government of India and stressed that the people need to convert it into a ‘Jan Andolan’ or a mass movement. He said such small changes at the local level can contribute to bringing significant gains at the national level.

The Azaadi ka Amrit Mahotsav is an initiative of the Government of India to celebrate and commemorate 75 years of Independence of progressive India and the glorious history of its people, culture and achievements. 

It was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi by flagging off ‘Dandi March’ from Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad, Gujarat on March 12, 2021. The mahotsav will continue till August 15, 2023.

Also read | Manipur: Smriti Irani arrives in Imphal on 2-day visit

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