Money & Banking

End financial untouchability for freedom from poverty: PM

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018

Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan during the launch of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, in New Delhi, on Thursday.- Ramesh Sharma


15 million accounts opened on first day of Jan Dhan Yojana

The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, a financial inclusion mission launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, kicked off with a bang on Thursday, with a record 15 million new bank accounts opened on the first day itself.

The results, said some bankers, could easily find their way into the Guinness Book of World Records, for the maximum number of accounts opened in a day. To achieve this feat, nearly 80,000 camps were organised in 600 districts across the country.

Launching the scheme (its title loosely translates into ‘Scheme for People’s Wealth’), Modi asked banks to achieve the target of providing accounts to 75 million households by January 26, 2015 against the earlier deadline of August 14, 2015.

Modi said those who had not become part of the system were actually facing ‘financial untouchability’. He added that when 40 per cent of the population was not getting benefits of economic activities the nation could not be expected to fight poverty.

Under the Jan Dhan scheme, the account holders will get a life cover of ₹30,000 in addition to an accident insurance of ₹1 lakh.

The Finance Ministry, as directed by the Prime Minister, is now looking to open 150 million bank accounts across the country, much ahead of the earlier envisaged one-year time frame.

Concerted effort needed

Opening 150 million new basic bank accounts (with a debit card and insurance cover) in a span of 100 days will be a big task for the Indian banking industry. But the challenge can be met with a concerted effort, say bankers.

In his address, the Prime Minister said that when banks were nationalised in 1969, it was done with the objective of bringing people into the economic mainstream. But the objective has not been achieved till date, he said, adding that “not even 68 per cent of India’s population has access to banking”.

It is easy for the rich to get a loan at low interest rates, but the poor are forced to seek funding from money lenders at rates that are five times higher, the prime minister noted, adding: “Is it not the responsibility of the banking industry to provide banking access to the poor?”

Taking a dig at the growing number of wilful defaulters among the rich and powerful, Modi said 99 per cent of the poor, if they take a loan, repay in time.

“Bank officials have experienced that, but about ‘ bade-bade log (rich and powerful), we know what happened,” he said.

Published on August 28, 2014

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