Historical Overview of Rural Credit in IndiaPost 1947, when nation got its independence from colonial rule, it in order to provide better services and quality life to its citizens approached global players ( developed countries) which with endeavor to maintain their key positions in the world, extended their support in development context. With the support of Ford foundation, Community Development Programs begin in the country. In the later stages, Integrated Rural Development Approach, Legal Rights based and Micro Credit approach was adopted.Among diverse problems in the country, poverty was given attention by the leaders from time to time. Reaching poorest of the poor and eradicating poverty was always on hit list in 5 years plans. Poverty, Non performing Assets, Non Productive needs, Backwardness of agriculture and flaws in money lending system were one of the few causes of rural debt. Thus a call for organized and formal money lending system was onthe way. With this notion in context, nation witness involvement of three key agencies in rural credit i.e Cooperatives, Commercial Banks and Regional Rural Banks. But despite of various efforts whether it was nationalization of banks, rural debt relief schemes, recapitalization by NABARD or reducing the distance and penetration factor by starting RRB’s, still there were issues of non repayment, investment in non performing assets, high transactional costs, all turning out to be risky investments for banks.Thus in a global scenario, in 1983 Microcredit approach was given by Mohd. Younus with the aim to provide poor micro credit to enable him to become eligible for bank loans and thus to make him reach the mainstream of the society. It was in this context Micro finance institutions in India, were taken up as new approach. After efforts by organizations such as SEWA, MYRADA, PRADHAN, CDF, in 1992 RBI and NABARD initiated the linkage of NGO’s with Commercial Banks to set up Self Help Groups.India in 1999 launched Swarnjayanti Gramin Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY), which aimed to bring the poor families above the poverty line by providing them income generating assets through bank credit and government subsidy. This despite of its positive and significant impact in areas like Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, due to some discrepancies in delivery systems, negative attitude of bankers towards credit disposal and complexity of livelihood issues, was later in 2011 replaced by Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY –NRLM).NRLM Approach: From Microcredit to EmpowermentNRLM launched in 2011 aims on eradicating poverty by enabling the poor households to gain self employment and build sustainable livelihoods.The basic strategy (shown in fig. 1) over which the mission moves on is to achieve universal social mobilization by reaching out to the poorest of the poor (with their own mechanisms of identification), linking them to microcredit (through SHG’s), enabling them to start their own livelihoods to become micro-entrepreneurs, providing skills and linking to markets so as to make them reach out to mainstream section in thesociety. In this context various components were designed such as:-1) Institution and capacity building2) Financial Inclusion3) Livelihood Promotion4) Social Inclusion and Development5) Convergence.However this paper is not focused upon explaining each and every component of NRLM Strategies, Support structures etc. But one important feature of these self help groups is women shg’s. The next section discusses the possible reasons to choose women instead of men as shg members.Women Specific ApproachHowever NRLM is not only focused upon women, as there are many situations where men are seen as a part of mission such as Internal/External community resource persons (ICRP/ECRP) and many other. So it will be wrong to claim NRLM as totally women based mission, it was only that main attention was on building women based SHG’s. It is hereby important to understand some of the reasons why women were chosen instead of men.Rural women lives in acute poverty, they suffer from absence of economic opportunities and have minimum access to resources, poor educationFig. 1. Vision of mission shown as a process.Source: Author understanding about NRLM visionAnd awareness about their own rights resulting in poor decision making and autonomy. With around 60% of India’s population engaged in farming, contribution by rural women accounts for around 70- 80% but are not equally recognized as their male counterparts. Further within agriculture they face wide disparities in access to tools and are confined to works that are more drudgery. Apart from that nearly 80% of rural enterprises are of women, wherein most of these are home based subcontracted works and stood at the end of value chain. Instead of higher work participation rate, rural women don’t enjoy a higher level of welfare. Further there is a strong assumption that despite facing inequalities, lower access and ownership, women take proper responsibility of householdParticipatory identification of poorLinking to micrcredit (joining shgs’s)Managing Livelihood sEnabling (by imparting skiils) to become microentreprenuerIncreased Social CaiptalBecomining Economically Empowered and better social statusEmpowered (in Different spheres i.e social ,economic and political)and childcare and they can be more trusted than men in order to ensure savings. Thus with these assumptions and factual interpretations most beneficiaries ofmicrocredit worldwide were chosen as women and so from the predecessor of NRLM there were women based SHG’s and as the same continued in NRLM.Impact Assessment- an important step.Evaluation has always been seen as important action which can lead to transparency and helps the executers in analyzing key errors in implementing projects. It is in this context impact assessment of NRLM was taken up.The study was done in state (Jammu and Kashmir) where mission runs at State Rural Livelihood Mission (SRLM). The area of study was Block –Bishnah in Jammu. (Discussed in next paper)Developing indicators to assess empowermentEmpowerment being a very wide term and may varies in terms of its meaning, scope from boundaries to boundaries. So defining empowerem-ent remains a debatable topic but keeping in context the common concepts there can be three main domains i.e social, economic and political domains through which empowerment can be looked upon.While keeping the framework and activities of SRLM in context, these domains were further divided into sub-parts as listed below:-A) Social domain? Assertive: – Discussion and action against Social evils.? Self efficacy + Mobility :-1) Communication with confidence (with outsiders such as local grocery stores, bank, doctors, people with authority, child teachers.)2) Confidence in disagreement with husband and family members.3) Can visit or travel alone to maximum distanceWith around 60% of India’s population engaged in farming, contribution by rural women accounts for around 70- 80% but are not equally recognized as their male counterparts.? Status of decision making in social matters:-1) Decision making in social affairs. (How much she is considered when deciding family planning, education of children, marriage of children, separating from family).2) Decision making in management of family assets.B) Economic Domain: -? Own savings.? Access to technology? Freedom to invest in family household related activities such as purchasing furniture, utensils, purchase of land, child education etc.? Freedom to invest money in starting self business. Eg raising livestock, small shops etc.? Generating employment.? Status of Decision making in economic matters of household.C) Political Domain: -? Status of legal Awareness: – Knowledge of own rights such as property rights, reservation of seats in local governance, legislations.? Status of Political Awareness: – Knowledge of Govt. schemes, names of elected members.? Political Participation: – Attending Gram Sabhas.Based on above parameters the study was conducted to assess impact of JKSRLM in Block-Bishnah, Jammu, J&k which was initiated in two phases. The first one was participatory techniques and second one is structured questionnaire. Both the phases with their detailed explanation and results are explained in continued paper.Conclusion: Rural women act as a major catalyst in the alleviating rural poverty and leading to development. Programs designed to empower them needs to assess in terms of their impact so as to remove the discrepancies with the intention to make a significant contribution in their lives that may foster national development.