Monday, January 24, 2022


Himachal woman entrepreneurs will have different story to tell:Varinder Kanwar

Yadavindra S Rana | November 28, 2021 11:00 AM

CHANDIGARH:There is a sublime form of women empowerment that is now taking place in
Himachal Pradesh and in village after village of the state, women are unleashing a silent revolution
of change. “Self-dependent” seems to be the new buzzword among women in villages in this hilly
state and women use those words quite often. Change is evident and women are more self-assured
and definitely more assertive. And the agent that has brought about this change in the lives of rural
women is the indulgence and thrust of the state rural development department.
While talking to Mr Varinder Kanwar, minister for rural development and panchayati raj,
Himachal Pradesh said that the state government has taken various innovative initiatives to make
rural women economically ‘dependence’ to ‘independence, ’ by constituting self-help groups for their
development, which has provided them a new direction towards becoming self-reliant. “The
department has fixed a target of providing incremental income of Rs one lakh to them within a
year, ” reveals he.
Around 29, 000  self-help groups (SHGs) having 2.50 lakh members, have been formed under
the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) in the state. He admitted that marketing was a
problem and government would come over this problem. The department has uploaded 51 products
produced by them on Amazon and more than 500 more would be uploaded soon so that products
could get international access.
Himachal Pradesh State Rural Livelihoods Mission has registered the 'Him Ira' brand and
logo in the financial year 2019-20. All the self-help groups are now selling their products under this
brand. In order to popularize the Him Ira brand, Himachal Pradesh State Rural Livelihoods Mission is
also setting up Him Ira shops and weekly markets in the state. Mr Kanwar further stated that as of
now the department has set up 46 Him Ira shops in the state and till Februrary 2021 sales of
products worth Rs 1.20 crore was registered by these shops. The department will soon set up 100
Him Ira shops and locations for 71 such shops have been identified.
Divulging on the future plan the minister revealed that in a bid to give revenue generation
booster doze, the department has opened Him Ira canteens in all ITI institutions and all canteens
were run by the SHGs across the state. The department has also planned to open Him Ira canteens in
all deputy commissioner offices in the state.
The minister also stated that the department has been providing skill development
training free of cost to these women and trained them in packaging of products. The government
also provided soft loan to these women to start their business and the government gave 30 per cent
subsidy on these loans. “Him Ira” brand is gaining a distinct identity on a wider scale and to expand
its reach the department has time to time provided space for sale of their products, ” said the
minister and added a weekly market was also organized at the segment level to facilitate sale of
their products directly to the people.
The state government initiatives start paying dividend and sales of their products is
touching new height. The Him Ira weekly markets have been set up either at office premises of
development blocks or at any nearby available places. The weekly market was preferably set up at a
place where self-help groups and local people can easily reach out to sell and buy their products.
Currently, average sales of Rs. 15000 to Rs. 22500 per week have been recorded in these weekly
markets from August 2020 to January 2021.
Self-help groups of women have also been launched a new initiative to prepare hygienic
food for people in various departments, offices and canteen located in educational institutions and
government offices. Under this, in the first phase, Department of Technical Education, Himachal
Pradesh has agreed to provide free of cost space to self-help groups to set up Him Ira Kitchen in its
14 educational institutions. The selection and training of members to run these canteens have
already been started.
The first canteen of Him Ira has been established in Arki ITI of Solan district. In future, Him

Era Rasoi, to be run by members of SHGs in other educational institutions and government
departments, would be made functional in a well planned manner. Similarly, to provide quality,
clean and homemade food to the people of state, an innovative Him Ira Annapurna Meals on Wheels
has also been started.
In the coming years, women entrepreneur will have a different story to tell. Thanks to
initiatives of the rural development department and undercurrents of change will be witnessed
across the state.

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