Tura, January 16: The President of India, Droupadi Murmu, graced the Self-Help Groups (SHGs) Programme organized by the Government of Meghalaya, today, at the Baljek Airport, Tura. During her visit, President also laid the foundation stone for the New Integrated Administration Complex, marking a significant step towards enhanced administrative capabilities in the region. Esteemed dignitaries in attendance included Governor of Meghalaya, Phagu Chauhan, Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma, Minister of Community & Rural Development, Abu Taher Mondal, Minister of Education, Rakkam A Sangma amongst others.

Reflecting on the women of Meghalaya and the SHGs, Hon’ble President said, “I have interacted with many SHGs of Women. I have noted that they are all happier and more satisfied after they started earning and contributing economically to the family. I have witnessed the same confidence and energy among all women present here today. The idea of women led development can be implemented only when women get the freedom to implement their choices. I do not mean that women can take decisions only if they are the earning member of the family but economic self-reliance definitely bring a better self confidence in women.”

Lauding the efforts of the Conrad Sangma led Government, President spoke about different SHGs of Meghalaya and said that these initiatives like the Lakhpati Didi “aims to transfer the rural economy and improve quality of life of rural people by promoting women entrepreneurship. The people need to take all the opportunities that the Government is providing them. It is said ‘Ek Akela thak jaayega, milkar bojh uthana’, and the SHGs reflect the same where the women come into groups and empower themselves, receives financial support from the Government, banks and other institutions”.

Speaking at the programme, Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma said, “We express our earnest gratitude to our respected President for her maiden visit to our state. Being the first tribal President of the country, it is indeed a very special moment for each one of us. In Meghalaya, we had less than 4600 Self Help Groups when he had taken over the government in 2018. In mere 5-6 years, we have been able to raise these number of groups to nearly 45000. Today, almost one woman from every rural household is a part of one SHG or the other. Our government does not believe in scheme-based development. We believe in stakeholder-based approach, a purpose driven approach, for the youth, women and Farmers of Meghalaya”.

The highlight of the event was a compelling success story presented by Venella D Sangma, an SHG member, who spoke about how the support by the Government transformed her hardships to opportunities for growth. President went down the dais and talked to hundreds of women in person, listened to their stories and visited the stalls and gave them suggestions for growth.

Following this, President Murmu participated in the disbursement of the Community Investment Fund amounting to Rs 25 crores and loans worth Rs 32 crores, reaffirming the government’s commitment to empowering local communities. Additionally, she awarded certificates to three exemplary SHGs and three Village Organizations, recognizing their outstanding contributions to community development.

Initially, Minister of Community & Rural Development Abu Taher Mondal conferred the welcome address and thanked the President for visiting the state. Minister laid focus on the growth of SHGs in the state and the programmes including PRIME, FOCUS and FOCUS+, CM ELEVATE and others highlighting their transformative role in the lives of the people of Meghalaya.