Thirty-five year old Gomati from Mangatpur in Pilibhit has opened a bank account under Jan Dhan, but she is skeptical about its use. "There is no money in it. I am confused. What will I do with it?" she said tersely when asked about her bank account. Gomati is not alone. Hundreds of women spoke in unison at the five-day financial literacy programme conducted by Skoch Group at Pilibhit, a picturesque Himalayan plateau rich with flora and fauna, but one of the economically backward regions in Uttar Pradesh
For 60 years, banks have been using the excuse of lack of branch penetration for all round poor performance on priority sector lending, differential rate of interest lending and self-help-group linkages, even as poor remain largely unbanked.
Ever since we started our initiatives on financial inclusion, it was crystal clear that financial inclusion without poverty alleviation is a meaningless exercise. If that be the case, the next question is how to attain the goal at the earliest and at the lowest possible cost. Here, I must say that the three things-social inclusion, financial inclusion and digital inclusion-are inter-linked, and if one is missing, the other two cannot happen. Incidentally, most of the flaws that I pointed out in my book titled Speeding Financial Inclusion (2009), eventually came true during the course of implementation of the financial inclusion initiative including the Swabhimaan scheme in 2011. Some of the mistakes are being repeated as the Jan Dhan is being rolled out.
18th July 2019
Unlike hunger, need for financial literacy is not self-evident. If it was, there would have been no need for it to start with. Financial literacy requires mobilisation, counselling, classroom training with the relevant content and pedagogy. There seems to be an impression that all this can be achieved in batches of 80 being mobilised by one extension worker for Rs. 4,500 or Rs. 56.25 per head for four hours of classroom training. What was the cost of opening a bank account or issuing an Aadhaar compared to this? The thought itself under-resources the programme for failure.