The SHG Bank linkage programme was launched by NABARD in 1991 in India. The book has tried to find out the socio-economic impact of the scheme in the Sonitpur district of Assam, a state in the North East part of India. A Self Help Group or SHG is a small group of poor people comprising 10 to 15 people specially women. They use to contribute a small but fixed amount to the group monthly which they give as loan to the members against low interest rate. These SHGs are linked with the commercial banks to provide more financial assistance to the members. The book depicts how this policy of connecting SHGs to the banks helps to transform rural economy in a big way. The banks give loans to the SHGs and not to any individuals directly. The group takes the responsibility of distributing the loans among the members and also to recover the same from the debtors. It has been clear that the policy has been a tremendous success in empowering the women members of the group. The book has tried to find out the structure, management and performance of the SHGs promoted under the programme, the pattern of savings and borrowing among the group members, the impact of the programme on level and composition of income as well as on the employment of the members households and the changes in the social status of the member households due to their association with the SHGs.

The following points have been the most important outcomes of the book:

First, the programme has able to put forth more opportunitiesof income generating sources and subsequently help them to raise their levels of income.
Secondly, the policy has able to make the women financially more empowered. The women members are forced to take care of the financial burden of their families and since their incomes have increased, they can now share it with their spouses.

Third, the different indicators used to measure the social empowerment of the women after their SHGs are linked with the banks under the SBLP have indicated that some progress in this direction has been achieved. Women with their growing economic power can now take part in the various activities within household and outside. The study has revealed that women are now considered as a major force in decision making in the issues ranging from children’s education to expenditure incurred on household and social functions.

Fourth, the scheme has able to enhance the possibility for gainful employment for both men and women members of SHGs. But more employment opportunities are opened for the women compared to men. But overall the employment scenario for the SHG members in the rural areas of the district has improved in the post-SHG situation compared to pre-SHG situation.

Overall it can be said that the book has able throw a good light on the functioning and performance of the SHGs under the bank finance in the district. The findings can be strong tools for the policy makers and the government to create more benefits to the people through the progrramme.

About the reviewer: Dr. Nripesh Kalita is serving as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Economics, Khoirabari College, Khoirabari, Udalguri, Assam. He has passed MA from University of Pune in 1997 and awarded Ph.D degree in 2014 from Magadh University, Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India. He is associated with several socio-cultural organizations and as an author published several research based articles in reputed journals, magazines and edited books. His areas of interest are– agricultural economics, industrial economics, computer in economics, development and rural economy. 

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