Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday asked the Reserve Bank of India to prepare a 20-year roadmap for deepening financial inclusion in the country.

Speaking at a function to commemorate the completion of 80 years of the RBI, Modi said that the financial inclusion programme should be rolled out in phases with the first target to be met by 2019, when the country will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

“So, a roadmap on how the Indian banking system will reach the doorstep of the poor will have to be readied,” the Prime Minister said, even as he lauded the RBI’s contribution to the economy.

Modi emphasised that banks should zero in on target groups and achieve the financial inclusion goals.

“Cooperative banks, microfinance institutions, nationalised banks as well as the RBI should think in one direction (financial inclusion). This is possible,” he said.

Financial inclusion is the process of ensuring access to appropriate financial products and services needed by all sections of society, in general, and vulnerable groups, such as weaker sections and low-income categories, in particular, at an affordable cost and in a fair and transparent manner.

No small achievement The Prime Minister pointed out that it was no small achievement that banks were able to open 14 crore bank accounts under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) since August 2014, with 41 per cent of the accounts collectively having a balance of ₹14,000 crore.

Modi said though the facility allowed the poor to open zero-balance accounts, they actually deposited money.

“Bankers must have seen the poverty of the rich many times. They must have come across the rich who don’t pay their dues on time. Bank managers must be troubled when March approaches and these borrowers don’t pay up. “So, you have seen the poverty of the rich. But PMJDY has given you the opportunity to see the richness of the poor,” the Prime Minister said.

In line with the ‘Make in India’ campaign, Modi urged the RBI to turn ‘Swadeshi’ by ensuring that the security paper as well the ink used for printing currency notes are manufactured domestically. The Prime Minister also asked banks and industrial houses, along with their employees, to give up their LPG subsidies to benefit one crore poor families.

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