Convergence with Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs) has been one of the central themes within the Kudumbashree idea. Convergence means seamless working together of the Kudumbashree and the PRIs; it includes institutional and programmatic convergence as well as sharing of resources. Convergence is concerned with a multi-tier Panchayat Raj system in rural areas, urban local government institutions in urban areas, the three tier Kudumbashree community organisation, the State mission and its district level offices, and the government and its institutions and agencies.

Kerala has a three tier PRI system with Gram Panchayats, Block Panchayats, and District Panchayats; urban areas have separate single tier local government institutions. The Kudumbashree community organisation works in a local government through its three tier system – Neighbourhood Groups (NHGs) as primary level organisations, Area Development Societies (ADSs) at the ward level, and Community Development Societies (CDSs) at the local government level.


Convergence of community organisation and PRIs evolved in the context of decentralisation and Peoples’ Plan Campaign. The three member Task Force that recommended the formation of Kudumbashree Mission had made recommendations regarding Kudumbashree’s identity and positioning vis-à-vis the PRIs.

The evolution of Kudumbashree - PRI convergence during the early phase of Kudumbashree was due to the following.

  • Decentralisation and the Peoples’ Plan Campaign, which set the context.
  • The recommendations of the three member Task Force, which proposed an engaging relationship between community organisations and PRIs without scope for subordination.
  • The design of the community organisation, which foresaw the need for convergence, and the campaign mode of implementation through PRIs that the Kudumbashree Mission adopted for expansion of the community organisation network.


Kudumbashree was born in the context of decentralisation of powers to Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRI) and a State-wide campaign to formulate the Ninth Five Year Plan from below. While decentralisation meant transfer of substantial funds to PRIs and deployment of functionaries, the State-wide campaign popularly known as the People’s Plan Campaign (PPC) tried to mobilise people at an unprecedented scale to formulate development plans locally.

Following the 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments, the government of Kerala had passed new Acts for panchayats and urban local governments in 1994. The government further approved the Rules for the implementation of the two Acts. State Finance Commission and State Election Commission were also set up. Elections were held to the three-tier panchayats and urban local governments in September 1995.

On 18th September 1995, a government order was issued devolving functions to Gram Panchayats. This government order came into effect from the next Gandhi Jayanti Day - 2nd October 1995. A new government took over the State administration following the assembly elections in May 1996. The new government announced the devolution of a third of the State’s annual plan funds to the local governments. The government also launched the People’s Plan Campaign (PPC) for formulating the Ninth Plan from below.

It was in this context that the State government announced the formation of the State Poverty Eradication Mission (SPEM) in the State budget of 1997-98. Shri. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the then Prime Minister of India launched Kudumbashree at Malappuram on 17th May 1998.

Even though the Kudumbashree idea had emerged out of a series of events and experiences, it was the concrete context of decentralisation and the People’s Plan Campaign that placed it firmly within the framework of PRIs and bestowed upon it specific roles in the new development approach.

PRIs as they exist today in Kerala and the Kudumbashree community organisation in fact developed almost concurrently.

After the passing of the Panchayat Raj Act and the Municipalities Act in 1994 and the devolution of functions to Panchayats in 1995, the next Panchayat elections were held in 1995. The new government that took over the State administration in 1996 announced the devolution of funds and took steps to deploy functionaries to the local government institutions. The government also announced the Peoples’ Plan Campaign, the mass mobilisation programme to draw up the Ninth Plan from below.

Therefore, 1996-99 was a period of significant churning that led to the evolution of local government institutions in Kerala as they exist today. Kudumbashree was born in the midst of these events. Kudumbashree started gaining its ground and establishing itself as an important and unique agency with evolving roles at the local government level during this period.

One of the outstanding contributions of the Peoples’ Plan Campaign had been the placement of gender dimension as a key theme in development planning. The State Planning Board conducted special training programmes for PRIs on addressing women’s issues. The early training manuals that the State Planning Board had prepared for decentralised planning had separate chapters on women and development.

The State Planning Board took steps to ensure the integration of the gender dimension in every project prepared by the local government institutions. In the standard format in which the local governments were to prepare their projects, it was made mandatory to include a statement on how the project would impact women under the chapter of benefit cost analysis.

A Women Component Plan (WCP) was introduced for which Gram Panchayats were expected to earmark 10 percent of their annual plan funds. As part of Women Component Plan, several Gram Panchayats took up awareness projects in study of women’s status.

In 1998, the State Planning Board published a special training manual for working groups on Women Component Plan titled ‘Women Development’ (Planning Manual Volume 11). Following this, ‘People’s Planning and Women Empowerment’ was published as training manual for the state level training of the Working Groups on Women Component Plan in 1999. Two subsequent volumes that the State Planning Board brought out - ‘Equity in Development’ and ‘Study of Women’s Status’ – took forward the discourse on the gender dimension in development.

The Planning Board also consolidated the experiences of women elected representatives across the State and published it as a book. A handout titled ‘Women and Local Level Planning’ was published to provide further directions to the planning process at the local government level. Subsequently in 2000, Planning Board published a volume titled ‘Peoples’ Planning and Women’s Advancement’.

By insisting on a section on ‘impact on women’ in the benefit cost analysis of every project that the local government institutions prepared, and by including gender as a theme for the massive training programmes rolled out for the Peoples’ Planning exercise, the State Planning Board systematically brought in the gender dimension into the development discourse associated with the People’s Plan Campaign.

Ayalkkoottasangamam (Convention on Neighbourhood Groups)

The first two years of the Peoples’ Plan Campaign (1997-98 and 1998-99) brought out several innovative experiments by local governments from different parts of the State. Neighbourhood Groups of various forms were attempted by different local governments for purposes varying from mobilisation for gram sabha to planning and implementing community based water supply schemes and other development initiatives.

There was a growing realisation on the potential of Neighbourhood Groups in mass mobilisation for local level planning. There was a need to examine the different emerging models and gaining from them so that these groups are used as forums for local level planning across the State. It was in this context that a large convention of Gram Panchayats with experience in Neighbourhood Groups was organised in Thiruvananthapuram. The convention had two convenors – N. Jagajeevan and Dr. Joy Elamon, both persons associated with the People's Plan Campaign in different capacities.

Neighbourhood Groups existed in several parts of the State before the formation of Kudumbashree. These included groups formed in Alappuzha and Malappuram through the government-UNICEF initiative, Self-Help Groups (SHGs) formed by NGOs, groups promoted by Gandhian groups, and Neighbourhood Groups promoted by Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad in the Panchayats covered under the Kerala Research Project on Local Level Development (KRP-LLD). There were also groups formed by religious organisations and their outfits.

In preparation to the convention, five commissions were formed to examine the role of NHGs at the local governments across the State. The commissions were on governance, institutional finance, social work, women empowerment, and self-employment. These commissions were to study the models of NHG performance in these sectors and present their observations in the convention.

The convention was called Ayalkootta Sangamam and was held over three days in October 1999. More than 400 Gram Panchayats and 20 Municipalities were represented in the event; around 100 Gram Panchayats presented their NHG models and their experiences in working with them. The convention was organised in such a way that various types of experiences with NHGs across different sectors were presented and discussed thematically.

The way the convention discussed the various dimensions of NHGs and topics pertaining to the working of NHGs and PRIs shows the extent of awareness on convergence already in existence among the leaders of decentralisation.

Panels and Themes

Topic for Discussion

Chairpersons of Panels

1. NHGs and their role in the governance mechanism

Structure of community organisation – structures at ward and Panchayat levels; mode of participation of the community structure in governance.

T.V. Govindan, President, Peelicode Gram Panchayat

2. Poverty eradication through the NHG system

NHGs role in poverty eradication; strategies and approaches.

P.K. Asha, Chairperson, Thalasseri Municipality

3. NHGs and transparency

Role of NHGs in ensuring transparency in local governance.

Appukuttan Kaani, President, Vithura Gram Panchayat

4. Role of NHGs in promoting education

NHG role in improvement of school infrastructure and academic work in schools, NHGs working with students for improved academic performance

Antony Eapen, Principal, Mar Ivanios College

5. Health and sanitation activities through NHGs

NHGs in health and sanitation; NHG role in creating clean environment, health awareness, promotion of safe drinking water and public health.

M.P. Parameswaran, Chairman, Kerala Sanitation Mission

6. NHGs and agriculture

NHG role in agriculture; collective efforts in addressing farm level issues.

V.R. Sivarajan, General Secretary, Kerala Gram Panchayat Association

7. NHGs for monitoring development activities

NHG role in monitoring of local development projects.

Lathika Vidyadharan, President, Kerala Block Panchayat Association

8. Financial projects through NHGs

NHGs working towards making institutional finance available to communities.

W.R. Reddy IAS, Managing Director, Kerala Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (Milma)

9. Enhanced Resource Mobilisation and NHGs

NHG role in mobilisation of resources at the local level in tune with the approach of the People’s Plan Campaign to ensure project outlays exceeding State’s and local government’s budget provisions.

K. Sukumaran, Divisional Chief, Department for Decentralised Planning, Kerala State Planning Board

10. NHGs for cultural development

NHG role in preserving and promoting local cultures.

S. Subbaiah IAS, Secretary, SC&ST Welfare Department

11. Micro Enterprise development through NHGs

NHGs in micro enterprise promotion.

B. Chandrachoodan Nair, Divisional Chief, Industries Department, Kerala State Planning Board

12. NHGs in planning and implementing development projects

NHG role in local level planning, project formulation and implementation.

B. Sathyan, President, District Panchayat, Thiruvananthapuram

13. Women empowerment through NHGs

NHGs and the status of women; women empowerment approaches.

K.K. Lathika, President, Kunnumal Gram Panchayat

14. Role of NHGs in beneficiary selection for development projects

NHG role in beneficiary selection for development projects.

T.R.Chandradath, Director, COSTFORD

15.NHGs for empowering Gram Sabhas

NHGs role in mobilisation for Gram Sabha; making Gram Sabha as a forum for empowerment.

T.K.Balan, MLA.

At the end of the first day, the chairpersons of the panels summarized the discussions in their respective panels. On the second day, the five commissions presented their papers in five parallel sessions.

  • Governance –T. Gangadharan
  • Institutional finance – M.A. Aboobakkar
  • Social work–Joy Elamon
  • Women empowerment–T.N. Seema
  • Self – Employment–K.N. Harilal

The discussion that followed brought out insights on the NHG experience till then and generated ideas on NHG structure and its promotion in the context of the State government’s setting up of Kudumbashree Mission. The ideas were discussed, compiled and presented at a plenary session attended by all the NHG families of Ulloor Gram Panchayat. T. M. Thomas Isaac, Member, State Planning Board made the presentation.


The three member Task Force chaired by Dr.T.M.Thomas Isaac that proposed the formation of Kudumbashree had made it clear that the proposed community organisation was to work together with the PRIs without one being subordinated to the other. CDS was not to be an appendage of the PRI committee; PRIs were to respect the autonomy of the community organisation. CDSs were to respect PRIs as institutions of local governance.

“The PRI-community organisation strategy for poverty eradication was based on a substantive recommendation of the three member task force”, says S.M. Vijayanand, the then LSG Secretary, who was a member of the committee along with Dr. Prakash Bakshi, General Manager, National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). “It was the vision of Paloli Mohammad Kutty, the then Minister for Local Self-Government that Kudumbashree should not be subordinate to any government department”.

Kudumbashree was proposed as a solution to the many limitations faced by the departmental approach to poverty eradication. Narrow departmental approach and implementation had been identified as a serious lacuna affecting the development initiatives of the State. Therefore, while it was created under the Department of Local Self-Government of the State government, care was taken to ensure that it emerged as a common platform for various departments.

Historically Kudumbashree evolved as the next logical step of democratic decentralisation in Kerala. That way, the network of Neighbourhood Groups is the social organisation of local governments. This community based organisation of the poor was visualised as partners to local governments; not as parallel to them. At the same time, the autonomy of the community organisation has been protected. They cannot be subordinated to the local governments; they have the space to work for the poor, the women, and the common people in partnership with local governments.


At present, relationship between the Kudumbashree Community Network and PRIs are through the following institutional systems.

  • Ward member of Gram Panchayat or the ward Councillor of the Municipality or Municipal Corporation is the patron of Area Development Societies (ADS)
  • Five women Ward Members of the Gram Panchayat or five women Councillors of the Municipality or Municipal Corporation are ex-officio members of the CDS General Body and Executive Committee.
  • Member Secretary of the CDS is an official deputed by the local government. In the case of Gram Panchayats the Member Secretary is the Assistant Secretary of the Panchayat; in urban governments, Health Officer working as Project Officer of the UPA Cell of the Municipality or Municipal Corporation is the Member Secretary of the CDS.
  • Welfare Standing Committee of the Gram Panchayat has a supportive and leadership role in all the economic and social empowerment programmes implemented by Kudumbashree as it is responsible for poverty eradication.
  • There is an Evaluation Committee at the local government level chaired by the head of the local government; the CDS chairperson is the Member Secretary of the Evaluation Committee, the member secretary of the CDS is its convenor. The Secretary of the local government institution, chairpersons of Welfare and Development Standing Committees, all members of the Steering Committee of the local government, the women members/ Councillors nominated by the local government to the CDS, and all heads of departments and divisions under the local government are members of the Evaluation Committee.

During the early days of Kudumbashree, one day Mayors of the five city corporations walked into the office of the minister for local self-government. The Mayors told the Minister that the Kudumbashree CDSs were functioning as bodies parallel to the constitutionally elected committees of local government institutions. They demanded that the CDSs be brought under the control of the councils.

Paloli Mohammad Kutty, the then minister for local self-government spoke to the mayors in his characteristic patient style. He pointed out that the Kudumbashree community organisations were designed to work hand in hand with the local governments; and that they were not to be subordinated. He explained that the relationship between the community organisation and local government should be one of mutual respect. Community organisation would be accountable to the local government in cases where they used the local government’s funds.

Kudumbashree community network was visualised as an agency working closely with the PRIs. PRIs had a leadership role in the expansion of the Kudumbashree network too. However, as the comments by the former minister indicates, there had been problems in the relationship between the community network and the PRIs. CDS was subjugated to the Gram Panchayats; presidents of the Gram Panchayats would even chair CDS meetings. Nomination to the post of CDS chairperson kept the upper hand of the political dispensation ruling the local government intact in the relationship between the community network and the PRIs.

A Landmark Event: Introduction of Common Bylaws in 2008

The relationship between the Kudumbashree community network and local governments as we see them today has clearly been the result of the common bylaws and the subsequent elections to the CDS introduced in 2008. Introduction of the bylaws led to the elimination of many gray areas in the relationship between the two entities. The churning that happened following the decision to have elected leadership for CDS led to a re-organisation of forces and eventually to institutionalised relationship between the community network and the local governments.

The new initiative addressed a few critical problems at the interface between the CDS and the PRIs.

First of all, there were problems relating to the lack of a uniform set of bylaws across local governments. The bylaws that were in existence in many places were in fact contrary to the very spirit of Kudumbashree as a women's agency. For instance, there were bylaws that bestowed the powers to dissolve a CDS up on the secretary of the Gram Panchayat or the Charge Officer. There were bylaws that offered the CDS committee a permanent nature. Bylaws were mostly unclear on the roles of sub committees and their members. There were bylaws without any clause on punitive actions in case of financial irregularities; there were bylaws that did not have any mention on audit at all.

Second, there was a problem with the very design of ADS. The number of members at the CDS coming up from the ADS level was restricted to nine. This meant that all ADS could not be represented at the CDS. There was also no one-to-one correspondence between a ward and ADS.

Third, may bylaws lacked any provision of reservation for scheduled caste and scheduled tribe members in the committees.

It had been pointed out that the very name 'Charge Officer' had a connotation of a powerful position above that of the members of the CDS (even though the early documents of Kudumbashree did mention 'Member Secretary' as an alternative and interchangeable term to 'Charge Officer". The nomination system gave local governments powers to dictate terms to the CDS of the day.

With the introduction of the common bylaws and elections in 2008, the relationship between CDS and PRI entered a new era.

Uniform bylaws were formulated and introduced through a campaign programme that facilitated organisational learning across the community network. Bylaws were made uniform for rural and urban community networks. Representation was ensured at every level; the system of nine-member committee was done away with in the case of CDS. All ADS were to get representation in CDS. Provisions were made for reservation of Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) members in the committees.

Membership conditions were redefined to make Kudumbashree a network of all the women who aspire to be its members. Roles of sub committees and members were defined. Accounting guidelines and audit processes were put in place. 'Member Secretary' replaced 'Charge Officer'. Bylaws also made provisions for enabling CDS to function as micro finance institutions and to work in collaboration with cooperative institutions. The bylaws allowed CDS to buy shares of cooperatives.

With clear norms for elections prescribed in the bylaws, CDS started evolving into an agency independent of the local government.

The new bylaws that came into force on 8th August 2008 was prepared by a sub committee appointed for the purpose by the Kudumbashree Governing Body. The committee members were the following.

  • Dr T.N. Seema
  • Ms Baby Balakrishnan, President, Kanhangad Block Panchayat
  • Prof R. Bindu, Mayor, Corporation of Thrissur
  • Ms Beena Sunny, President, Puzhakkattiry Grama Panchayat and Vice President, Gram Panchayat Association
  • Adv Suresh Babu, Chairman, Punalur Municipality



Thus the context was set for convergence by the People's Plan Movement, the recommendations of the three-member task force, and the design and campaign mode of expansion of the community organisation network adopted by the mission. The three factors that contributed to the institutionalisation of convergence came up from the State government as well as from the Kudumbashree’s State Mission. The three factors were the following.

  • The State government’s recognition of Kudumbashree’s role in local level planning through Plan Guidelines
  • Kudumbashree Mission’s attempts in strengthening convergence.
  • Kudumbashree role in Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM).


Towards the last years of the Ninth Five Year Plan (1997-2002), the Kudumbashree community network had been expanded to cover the whole of the State. The focus during the first two years of the Tenth Plan (2002-03 and 2003-04) was on the shift from a campaign mode in local level planning to institutionalisation. With the State facing fiscal stress during the third year, the State government came up with revised guidelines for the Tenth Plan in 2004.

Two objectives of the Tenth Plan provided space to Kudumbashree community network in local level planning.

  • Promoting local economic development by increasing production and productivity of agriculture and allied sectors and the traditional and small-scale industries with focus on employment generation and poverty reduction.
  • Move towards greater social justice and reduction in gender disparities.

Tenth Plan introduced Anti-Poverty Sub Plan as a mandatory component for local governments.

Anti-Poverty Sub-Plan was an attempt to break away from the nature of conventional poverty eradication programmes. The State government guidelines necessitated the preparation of the Anti-Poverty Sub-Plans based on problems identified by the poor and solutions proposed by them.

The plan guidelines envisaged the following roles for the Kudumbashree community organisation in formulation of Anti-Poverty Sub-Plans.

  • Identification of grass-root level problems and formulation of micro-plans by Neighbourhood Groups; Neighbourhood Groups were to handle this role in their capacity as the local level organisation of the poor.
  • Consolidation of micro plans prepared by all the Neighbourhood Groups in a ward and formulation of ward level plans by ADS.
  • Consolidation of ward level plans and preparation of CDS level plan by CDS.

Once the local governments approved the CDS level plans, they became their Anti-Poverty Sub-Plan.

Guidelines for the Tenth Five Year Plan and further the revised guidelines issued in 2004 reinforced Kudumbashree’s role in local level planning and their relationship with the local self-government institutions. Provisions in guidelines meant the following roles and space for Kudumbashree community organisation in working in convergence with the PRIs.

  • Planning agency: The community organisation supports the PRIs in planning, through participation in Working Groups and formulation of plans. (In the case of Anti-Poverty Sub-Plan, the entire three tier structure involves in plan formulation at the neighbourhood, ward, and local government levels).
  • Credit channelizing agency: The community organisation system has been accepted as a credit channelizing agency for development programmes.
  • Implementing agency: The community organisation as implementing agency for PRIs; this role could be either in the form of direct implementation or of supportive nature. In addition, the community organisation has also been designated as an agency for community contracting.
  • Agency for community mobilisation: Community organisation system to play a role in mobilising communities to make Gram Sabha meetings more effective. Guidelines suggested mobilisation through NHGs.

The following table provides a summary of Kudumbashree roles and spaces for strategic collaboration and convergence with PRIs.


What the guidelines said (G.O.(MS) No. 40/2004/Plg dated 31st March 2004

Role implications for community organisation/ Space for Convergence

Resource use

The Community development society (CDS) system has matured, it has to be put to maximum advantage to channel flow of credit to anti-poverty programmes both for self-employment as well as for creation of family infrastructure like houses.

Community organisation role in channelizing credit.

Planning perspective

Local economic development to generate more jobs needs to be consciously attempted. It calls for focus on increasing agricultural productivity and value addition through post-harvest processing. Paddy production has to be given top priority. Waste/fallow land development and fodder development also require particular attention. This can be attempted through NHGs under Kudumbashree.

Neighbourhood groups to support waste land / fallow land development.

Upgradation of traditional industries and promotion of micro enterprises for the poor are to be given special priority. Local governments should tie up with organisations like Kudumbashree, NABARD, Lead Bank, IIM Kozhikode etc., and take up focused programmes of entrepreneurship development ranging from identification of entrepreneurs, training them and providing support services for setting up units.

Kudumbashree as collaborators of local governments in entrepreneurship development.


All anti-poverty programmes should be compulsorily on the Kudumbashree mode.

‘Kudumbashree mode’ recognized for anti-poverty programmes.


Sectoral allocation and plan for special groups/ schemes

Five percent of the total plan size has to be set apart for children, disabled and the aged. 5% of the total plan allocation including general sector, SCP and TSP has to be set apart for children, disabled and the aged.

Provision for support for Kudumbashree initiatives of balasabha and BUDS schools.

At least 10% of the total plan size should be for women component plan. Women component plan should get at least 10% of the total plan allocation, including general sector, SCP and TSP. Assistance to Kudumbashree programmes can be taken up under women component plan.

Fund provision for Kudumbashree under women component plan.


All local governments should compulsorily have an anti-poverty sub plan prepared as an independent document. As part of this anti-poverty sub plan all local governments have to prepare a plan for development of destitutes.

Kudumbashree community organisation engaged in formulation of ant-poverty sub plans – micro plans by NHGs, ward plans by ADS, and GP level plans by CDS.


NSDP, SJSRY and VAMBAY plans and other anti-poverty projects would be initiated at the level of the neighbourhood groups (NHG) in municipalities and corporations. These plans would be consolidated at the ward level by the area development society (ADS) and further integrated at the municipal/corporation level by the community development society (CDS) and forwarded to the relevant working groups on poverty reduction, SC development, ST development and women and child development who will incorporate them with the overall plans. The priorities fixed by the ADS and CDS in SJSRY, NSDP and VAMBAY can be changed only with the prior approval of ADS/CDS.

Well defined role for the three tiers of the Kudumbashree community organisation in formulation of plans. Priorities fixed by ADS/CDS become crucial.


Preparatory phase- reconstitution of working groups

At least one member of the Kudumbashree CDS should be included in all the working groups and in the case of working groups on poverty reduction, development of women and children, and development of scheduled castes at least two members of the CDS have to be included.

Representation for community organisation in working groups; this was ensured in the guidelines for peoples’ plan campaign as well.

Working groups should take care of cross-sectoral issues especially in poverty reduction, plan for special groups like scheduled caste, women, disabled, children, aged etc. Each working group should identify the anti-poverty component of its subject and intimate the working group for poverty reduction which should consolidate the proposals.

Role through representation in the working groups.


Establishing linkage with banks

The DLBC should lay down a time table for block level bankers’committee meetings to which all presidents of village and block panchayats, officers of relevant departments are invited along with officers in charge of Kudumbashree and other anti-poverty programmes.

Representation of Kudumbashree community organisation ensured.

Planning phase

sector wise guidelines for

poverty reduction

A sustainable attempt at reducing poverty through local economic development is necessary. The gains of Kudumbashree have to be consolidated. Experience shows that in spite of enhanced flow of funds to the poor due to decentralisation, the benefits have not always reached the poorest among them, who are the destitutes. Their needs and problems have to be addressed separately, differently and directly.

Recognition of Kudumbashree’s achievements and mention on the need for consolidation.

Plan for special groups consisting of children, aged and disabled

This may be prepared in three sub-sections – one for each of the three special groups. Their specific problems may be identified and addressed through projects. Only schemes directly benefiting the groups with preference for people below poverty line may be taken up. However, providing teaching aids, baby-friendly toilets and playthings in anganwadis could be included. Special facilities for the aged and disabled in public places and aids to the disabled can be provided by this component. Strengthening of public institutions meant for these groups may be given preference.

Opportunity for strengthening Kudumbashree schemes and collaboration with PRIs.

Women component plan

Women component plan should focus on the gender needs of women especially those below poverty line. The CDS system and other women groups and NGOs should be actively involved in the formulation of the women component plan. Setting up of micro enterprises of women and providing minimum needs assets to widow headed families can be taken up under this component. Revolving fund to CDS linked to their thrift is also possible. Local governments may take up detailed studies on the status of women within their area under this component.

Community organisation role in formulation of women component plan, revolving fund for CDS.

Education and sports

Community based remedial coaching through the CDS system may be tried out in the case of students below poverty line in co-ordination with Kudumbashree.

CDS role in organizing educational programmes.

Meeting of Gramsabha

Mobilization through SHGs/NHGs/SC/ST promoters.

NHG role in gram sabha mobilisation.

Projectisation -Restriction and permission in subsidies and other items

Local governments should not be allowed to take up unproductive schemes like awareness camps, campaigns, melas, tours etc. However, they may be allowed to conduct awareness camps to prevent diseases and to organize sales melas for products under SGSY, SJSRY, Kudumbashree etc.

Permission to support Kudumbashree fairs.

The village panchayats and urban local governments can provide revolving fund only to neighbourhood groups/ADS/CDS of Kudumbashree, linked with specific projects. However, the local governments should not utilize their plan funds for distribution of working capital, loan etc., to other types of self-help groups.

Entitlement for revolving funds.


General items

Community development societies could be entrusted with execution of public works as community contracting. The procedure will be the same as in the case of accredited agencies.

CDS as agency for community contracting.

The Community development societies can be utilized as implementing agencies for women component plan as well as plans for special groups like aged, children and the disabled.

CDS as implementing agencies for women component plan and plans for special groups.


Guidelines for preparation of Anti-Poverty Sub Plan provided in Annexure 1 of the revised guidelines for the Tenth Plan specified roles for Kudumbashree community organisation in detail.

Constitution of Working Group

The member secretary CDS should be the convenor of working group at village panchayat level. The district mission coordinator of Kudumbashree was to assume the convenor role at district level and the project officer UPA cell for urban local governments. The local governments had to put in place special efforts to include the president and at least three members of the CDS in working groups in the case of village panchayats, municipalities and corporations. At the block level, all CDS presidents were to be members. At the district level, one CDS president from each block panchayat was to be included.

Situation analysis

The working group should analyse the available data on BPL families and prepare a concise report. The working group should also list out all schemes implemented for the benefit of BPL families and comment on their effectiveness.

Bottom-up planning by the CDS system

1. Conduct of training programme for NHGs, ADSs and CDSs by Kudumbashree mission

2. Preparation of a database of the poor

3. Situation analysis and need assessment

4. Suggestions for Anti-Poverty Sub Plan from the NHGs in the form a micro plan

5. Integration of plans by ADS

6. Integration of plans by CDS

Consolidation of plans by working group

The working group should analyse the plans received from the community development society and cross check the needs of the poor with the report already prepared as per step 2 and bring in modifications in the report if necessary. This report would be the final one to be presented in the convergence workshop.

Convergence workshop

Before finalizing the plan by the local governments a convergence workshop should be held at the level of each local government in which the members of the working group on poverty reduction, chairpersons, vice chairpersons and convenors of all working groups and general body members of the CDS would participate. This is to ensure proper integration of schemes and fine tune allocation of funds from different sectors for poverty reduction.

Preparation of the draft anti-poverty sub plan

1. The working group at the village and municipal/corporation levels should hold joint sittings with the general body of the CDS and draw up the anti-poverty sub plan

2. In the case of block panchayats the working group will collect the reports prepared by the Gram Panchayatworking group and interact with CDSs within their jurisdiction before drawing up their draft plans. The block panchayat may convene a meeting of the governing bodies of the CDSs in their jurisdiction for this purpose.

The block panchayats should take special care to give priority to those schemes identified at the village panchayat level which cannot be taken up locally.The block panchayat should consider how the destitute plan prepared by the Gram Panchayats in their jurisdiction is best supported.

3. In the case of district panchayats the working group would have a one day workshop with all the CDS presidents. During this meeting group discussions would be held on key issues and suggestions obtained.

The guidelines for the Eleventh Five Year Plan followed the Tenth Plan in letter and spirit in terms of Kudumbashree role and convergence with PRIs. Certain additional roles and responsibilities mentioned further reinforced Kudumbashree community organisation’s position within the local governance framework. An important addition in the guidelines for Eleventh Plan was the insistence on procurement of nutritional supplement under ICDS from Kudumbashree units.

With the increased emphasis on productive sector, Gram Panchayats found themselves in an unenviable situation. Many of them were unable to make significant expenditure in productive sector. This was the time when Kudumbashree pushed its collective farming forward. It also started a campaign on local economic development and conducted three regional workshops. These workshops were used as platforms for initiating exploration of local opportunities for local economic development.


In 2008, when Kudumbashree Mission accepted standardised bylaws for the community organisations, Evaluation Committees were formed at the PRI level on the lines of that existed in urban local government institutions.

The Evaluation Committee has the following members; the size of the committee is 25 for rural and 40 for urban local governments.

  1. Secretary of the local government
  2. CDS chairperson(s)
  3. The women ward members/ councillors nominated to the CDS by the local government
  4. Department heads and programme heads under the local government
  5. Two former CDS office bearers who are ex-officio members of the CDS
  6. The three volunteers of the CDS (income generation, health and education, infrastructure)
  7. Representatives of financial institutions
  8. Chairpersons of Welfare Standing Committee and Development Standing Committee of the local government
  9. All the members of the local government Steering Committee (the committee consisting of the chairpersons of all the Standing Committees), and convenors of the five sub committees of the CDS (Thrift and Credit, Micro Enterprises, Social Development, Infrastructure, Employment Guarantee Scheme).

The Evaluation Committee serves as a platform for convergence in the implementation of development activities in the local governments. It approves the CDS Action Plan and ensures that the activities proposed in the action plan finds place in the allocative plans of the LSG, transferred institutions and credit plans of financial institutions.

An outcome of the process relating to the new bylaws has been the importance that ADS gained as the mid-layer in the community structure. ADS has been there since the early concept of the Kudumbashree community organisation. However, it had continued as an entity without clearly defined roles and a space in the community structure. The new bylaws aligned ADS with the wards. The new bylaws and the election process brought in ADS into assuming roles as important as those of the other two layers.


Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) added to the strengthening of ADS. ADS representatives were to be the ‘Mates’ for scheme implementation. Close to two lakh women were trained to work as ‘Mates’ in MGNREGS. This started emerging as a cadre developing knowledge on identification and estimation of works, and in work supervision. MGNREGS and its link with collective farming lead to the rejuvenation of the entire structure, and it benefited ADS the most.

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 (NREGA) guarantees 100 days of employment in a financial year to any rural household whose adult members are willing to do unskilled manual work.

NREGA stands out as a landmark legislation in India’s history for various reasons.

  • The Act was formulated through wide range of consultations with people’s organisations.
  • The Act addresses working people and their fundamental right to life with dignity.
  • The Act makes employment a right; people are not at the mercy of anyone to access work.
  • The Act empowers ordinary people to play active roles in implementation.

Objective of the Act

The basic objective of the Act is to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. This work guarantee can also serve other objectives such as generating productive assets, protecting the environment, empowering rural women, reducing rural-urban migration, and fostering social equity, among others.

India had rural wage employment programmes for several decades; but these were not really effective and had been fraught with several problems including corruption in implementation. What NREGA did was to transform the wage employment programme into a rights-based scheme, where people can demand work. It was the first ever attempt to help the rural poor access public employment through legislation.

NREGA was enacted in 2005, and the scheme was subsequently named ‘Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).

Basic Implementation Principles

  • Collaborative partnership and public accountability: The Act envisages a collaborative partnership between the central government, the State governments, the panchayats and the local community. Broadly, the main implementation activities are at the Village and Block levels; coordination is at the Block and District levels. Planning, supervision, and monitoring take place at all levels (Village, Block, District, and State). At each level, the Act sees the concerned authorities to be accountable to the community.
  • Community participation: The Gram Sabha is the statutorily mandated institutional mechanism for community participation. In addition, other methods of community participation could be evolved: local vigilance and monitoring committees, workers’ associations, local beneficiary committees, self-help groups, user groups and other grass-root structures. Active community participation is particularly important for ensuring transparency and public accountability.
  • Role of Panchayats: The panchayats at each level will be the principal authorities for planning and implementation of the schemes under the Act.
  • District Programme Coordinator and Programme Officer: The overall responsibility for ensuring that the scheme is implemented according to the Act belongs to the district programme coordinator at the district level and programme officer at the block level.
  • Coordination among agencies: Panchayats at different levels will need to coordinate with each other for the effective implementation of the Act. Similarly, Panchayats and District / Block administration will have to work together.
  • Resource support: The central and State governments will facilitate the implementation of the Act through timely and adequate resource support.

MGNREGS implementation was sequenced in three phases; starting with the 200 most backward districts in 2006, another set of 130 districts were covered during 2007-08, and the whole nation was covered in the third phase beginning 1st April 2008.


  • Implementation of the Act laid emphasis on institutions of local government, the PRIs.
  • It followed a three-tier governance structure involving planning at the Village, Block and District levels.
  • Act had ‘promoting sustainable development of rural economy through the generation of productive assets.
  • Panchayats were authorised to plan, design, and execute the projects.
  • Panchayats were to allocate the expenditure of material and labour in a 40:60 ration, thus keeping the emphasis on labour.
  • The State governments were required to meet payments for one-fourth of the material cost, including the wages of skilled and semi-skilled workers.
  • Central government was to meet the remaining expenditure on materials and the whole expenditure on wage payment to unskilled workers.
  • The Act required the State government to pay unemployment allowance in case it failed to fulfil the legal guarantee within 15 days of application.
  • The Act insisted on at least one-third of the persons who have registered and sought work to be women.
  • The Act made restricted the use of machines and contractors, along with providing the medical and accidental benefits to the MGNREGS workers.

In order to encourage female participation, the Act made provision for crèche for children along with other facilities of shade, water, and first-aid.

The Act had certain built in mechanisms to ensure transparency and accountability.

  • The Act authorised Gram Sabhas within panchayats to conduct regular social audit of the projects taken up.
  • In order to ensure transparency in wage payments, it engaged Banks / Post Offices.
  • The Act provided for grievance redressal through the institution of Ombudsman at the district level (this is yet to be implemented).

Kudumbashree and MGNREGS

When MGNREGS was implemented in Kerala in 2005-06, Kudumbashree emerged as a major player in the implementation process within the Panchayat Raj framework.

At the time of introduction of MGNREGS, there was scepticism on its feasibility given the relatively higher levels of wages existed in the state.

Community Network’s Role in MGNREGS


  • Interface with GP for preparation of labour budget


  • ADS member chosen as MGNREGS mate
  • Consolidation of identified works at ADS level
  • Job card application, photographs, job card distribution


  • Work identification
  • NHGs as labour groups
  • Participation in gram sabha for MGNREGS planning and social audit


Community Network’s Role through Stages




Kudumbashree Community Network’s Involvement


Registration of families of potential MGNREGS workers

GP President, Secretary

  • Attending training on MGNREGS at the block
  • Awareness creation among the larger population through the community network (CDS-ADS-NHG)
  • Special gram sabhas in all wards with the presence of ward member and ADS secretary
  • Ensuring representation of Kudumbashree members as Mates (as per the guideline No.J-11011/18/2007-MGNREGS, 25th Oct 2013)
  • Mates attending training at the Block level
  • Facilitating distribution of applications through community network
  • Collection of job card applications through a camp at ward level
  • Verification of details and other documents accompanying the application form through a camp organised at the ward level
  • Facilitating the process of taking photo graphs of the applicants at the ward level
  • Submitting applications to the GP


Distribution of job cards

GP President

Information dissemination and facilitation in the process of distribution of job cards


Receipt of work application

GP President/ Programme Officer

  • Information dissemination through the community network (CDS-ADS-NHG)
  • Demand for work taken to Gram Sabha
  • ADS mate maps out demand for employment from each ward


Selection of public work to be taken up in a GP

GP President

  • Identification of the work and sites under the supervision of assistant engineer (at the NHG level and submitting the list to the ADS)
  • Consolidating the various work lists at ward level
  • Mapping the possible integration of MGNREGS works identified with existing CDS plan
  • Mobilising MGNREGS workers of the ward for a project meeting at ward level
  • Presenting the consolidated work list to the ward member
  • Facilitating project meeting


Development and approval of technical estimates and issuance of work order

Junior Engineer/ GP President

Preparation of Annual action plan including labour budget


Allotment of work

GP President/ Programme Officer



Implementation and supervision of work

GP president/ Programme Officer/Designated agency

  • Mates attending training on roles and responsibilities on work site management
  • Mates receive muster rolls following which the work commences
  • Mates capture daily attendance in muster roll
  • Mates collect and distribute muster rolls every 14 days for the Panchayat
  • Creating awareness among MGNREGS workers about their entitlements
  • Providing tools and implements for work
  • Provision of amenities at work site
  • Assistant engineer and Village Extension Officer who are responsible for field monitoring is accompanied by ADS mate


Payment of wages

Implementing /Designated agency

Mates collect cheques for the payment of wages and credit to the bank accounts of the workers.


Payment of unemployment allowance

Programme Officer



Evaluation of completed work

President/ Programme Officer

ADS members coordinate social audit which is conducted by MGNREGS accountant


Evaluation of completed work

President/ Programme Officer

  • Awareness creation among the community about the importance of social audit and the process to be followed to conduct it in a transparent manner
  • Information dissemination about the conduct of Gram Sabha for social audit.

ADS nominating the mate for MGNREGS has been cited as a factor that contributed to the quality of the programme in Kerala, especially when compared with some of the states where mates have been contractors, and invariably, men.

Role of the MGNREGS Mate

  • Supervision of work sites
  • Daily attendance and muster roll
  • Facilitating applications for job cards
  • Submission of filled muster rolls
  • Facilitating participatory identification of works in the Panchayat


Even though Kudumbashree was visualised as the single agency for poverty eradication covering rural and urban areas, the State government had been able to designate it as nodal agency for urban centrally sponsored schemes only. The State’s Department of Rural Development resisted any move to take over the rural poverty alleviation schemes for which the department had been the implementing agency.

A change in this was brought out by the re-launching of SGSY as National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM). The State government recommended Kudumbashree as the State Rural Livelihoods Mission (SRLM) as per the requirement of NRLM. The State Rural Development Department resisted this move on the basis that NRLM was only a reincarnation of SGSY for which the department had been the implementing agency.

There were civil society claimants too for taking up the role of SRLM. As has been the practice in other states where a state level agency did not exist before, certain civil society agencies had demanded that they too share the role of SRLM. However, the State government and the central government stood firm on their decision and Kudumbashree was designated SRLM for Kerala. This led to further strengthening of institutionalisation of PRI-community organisation convergence.