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
When 54-year old Ranjana Devi (not the original name) from Himmatnagar village went to a bank to open an account under Jan Dhan, she was asked to show an identity and residence proof or pay Rs.500. Neither she had any identity and residence proof, nor was she is in a position to pay the money demanded.
While inheriting a history that can be traced back to the Hindu epic of Mahabharata when it was ruled by Mayurdhwaj or King Venu, a great devotee of lord Krishna and a loyal friend of Arjun, Pilibhit derives its name from a local village where people build yellow-coloured mud walls around their dwelling units to protect themselves from wild animals.
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.
It has been a busy schedule for the Modi Government in the past six months in terms of policy initiatives and it is going to be even more hectic in the coming quarters when it gets down to implement those policies to revive the economy, generate employment and pull up millions from poverty.
Ensuring jobs for poor, especially women, is my top priority for Pilibhit as a Member of Parliament in the Lok Sabha from this constituency. Financial inclusion initiative under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana will prove to be very useful. But this is only one step.