Swabhimaan” is a path-breaking initiative by the Union Government and
the Indian Banks’ Association to bridge economic gap between rural and
urban India. This campaign is a big step towards socio-economic equality
by bringing the underprivileged segments of Indian population into the
formal banking fold for the first time. The vision for this programme is
social application of modern technology.
‘Swabhimaan’ – a financial security programme was launched by the
Central Government to ensure banking facilities in habitation with a
population in excess of 2000 by March 2012. This nationwide programme on
financial inclusion, was launched in February, 2011 with its focus on
bringing the deprived sections of the society in the banking network to
ensure that the benefits of economic growth reach everyone at all
a big nation like India, providing banking facilities across the length
and breadth of the country, especially in rural areas, has always been a
great challenge for the successive governments since Independence. Even
though nationalisation gave a big boost to expansion of banks in rural
areas with Public Sector Banks becoming important instruments for
advancement of rural banking and changing lives of rural populace.
key idea is that there is need for village level presence – a
customer-facing channel that is close to the customer preferably at a
walking distance of not more than three to four kilometers. For this, it
is important to have entities which are good at delivering outreach
while operating in very difficult remote conditions. Besides giving
access to banking, it also enables government subsidies and social
security benefits to be directly credited to the accounts of the
beneficiaries, enabling them to draw the money from the bank saathi or
business correspondents in their village itself.
This initiative enables small and marginal farmers to obtain credit at
lower rates from banks and other financial institutions. This would
insulate them from exploitation of the money lenders. Government’s
emphasis on bankers is to take up this task with a sense of
responsibility and understanding and exercise courtesy and respect,
especially to small borrowers.
initiative is also important to protect the customers, especially the
most vulnerable ones, from harsh financial practices and prevent them
from being overburdened by debt. All in all, the end objective should be
to empower people to achieve their own goals through enhancing their
campaign ensures to provide the following services to the Rural India:
Promises to bring
basic banking services to unbanked villages with a population of
2000 and above.
facilitates opening of banks accounts, provide need-based credit and
remittance facilities besides helping in promoting financial
literacy in rural India.
The programme is
aimed at increasing the demand for credit among the millions of
small and marginal farmers and rural artisans who will benefit by
having access to banking facilities.
inclusion campaign aims at providing branchless banking services
through the use of technology.
basic services like deposits, withdrawals and remittances using the
services of Business Correspondents (BCs) also known as Bank Saathi.
also enables Government subsidies and social security benefits to
now be directly credited to the accounts of the beneficiaries so
that they could draw the money from the Business Correspondents (BCs)
in their village itself.
hopes that the benefits of micro insurance and micro pension
products reach the masses through this banking linkage.
This programme now
makes it possible for the large number of migrant workers in urban
areas to remit money to their relatives in distant villages quickly
provided through banking outlets will enhance social security by
facilitating the availability of allied services in course of time
like micro insurance, access to mutual funds, pensions, etc.
like Savings Bank, recurring Deposits, Fixed deposits, Remittances,
Overdraft facility, Kisan Credit Card (KCCs), General Credit Cards (GCC)
and collection of cheques will be provided.
The Banks are also
working together with the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)
for enrolment, opening bank accounts and also to facilitate transfer
of government subsidies and other payments.
Government had provided Rs 500 million to banks for this initiative in
the last fiscal year.
During his Budget
speech this year, the Union Finance Minister, Shri Pranab Mukherjee has
proposed to extend the ‘Swabhimaan’ campaign to habitations with
population of more than 1000 in North Eastern and hilly States and to
other habitations which have crossed population of 2000 as per Census
2011. As a next step, Ultra Small Branches are being set up at these
habitations, where Business Correspondents would deal with cash
transactions. Union Finance Minister also informed that 70,000
habitations have been covered so far under the ‘Swabhimaan’ campaign out
of 73,000 identified habitations till March 2012. The Swabhimaan
movement is “significant beginning” for transforming of rural India
through financial inclusion.
*Media & Communications Officer, PIB Chandigarh.