Talking about the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY), Union Minister Smriti Irani on Wednesday stated that more than 150 million women from across the country have gained access to collateral-free loans under the Yojana.

Smriti Irani, the minister for women & child development and textiles also highlighted that employment opportunities have been generated for over six lakh women in the personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturing segment, which has witnessed the emergence of more than 1,100 companies since April.

The Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana is a scheme launched by the prime minister on April 8, 2015, for providing loans of up to Rs. 10 lakh to the non-corporate, non-farm small and micro enterprises. Addressing a webinar organized by Ficci, Smriti shared that the government through women helplines has managed to rescue and provide support to over 50 lakh women in the past one year.

She said, during the pandemic, the Centre in collaboration with state governments provided relief, rescue and rehabilitation to over 90,000 women. “We are strengthening our judicial processes to help women in need and that is why we are setting up 1,023 fast track courts across the country to ensure speedy justice to women in need of protection of law,” stated Smriti. The minister further added “150 million Indian women had access to collateral-free lending under the Mudra Yojana”.

Pointing out that India did not produce a single PPE coverall till the month of April, Smriti said that between April to the current day, the country has seen the emergence of over 1,100 companies specific to the manufacturing of PPE coveralls. “Today the expected annual turnaround for these companies is close to an estimated one billion dollars and as we speak today we celebrate the employment prospects that have been generated for over 6 lakh Indian women only in the segment of PPE manufacturing,” stated Smriti.

She also said the focus should now be towards creating a calibrated and systemic strategy of engagement with neighbors to create successful partnerships and value chains. The government had banned exports of PPE coveralls from March to June this year. It allowed the exports under quantity restriction limited to 5 million per month from July 28 to August 24. During this period, export authorizations were given for the US, the UK, the UAE, Senegal and Slovenia. The highest was to the US at 600,000 units. At the same event, Junaid Ahmad, India country director, South Asia at World Bank, talked about shared sovereignty in the South Asian region and said that ideas like power pool, where no one knows which country is selling power and who is buying, would ensure sufficient power for the region, and also suggested water sharing to help reopen economic opportunities. “We have to invest in waterways in the region and think of movement of freight through that,” stated Junaid, adding that shared environmental assets in the region will help to take on future cyclones and other natural calamities.