According to the 2011 census, about 58.7% households had reported access to banking facilities. This still leaves out nearly 10 crore households that do not avail of banking services.
To bring the country's entire population into the banking network, the government, along with other stakeholders including RBI and SEBI, has taken several steps to achieve financial inclusion. The objective of this, the Finance Ministry says, is to extend financial services to the large hitherto-unserved population of the country to unlock its growth potential. In addition, it strives towards a more inclusive growth by making financing more accessible.
In order to extend the reach of banking to the rural hinterland, banks were asked in 2010-11 to provide appropriate banking facilities to villages and towns having a population in excess of 2000 by March 2012 under the ‘Swabhimaan’ Financial Inclusion Campaign.As per reports received from State Level Bankers Committee (SLBC) Convener Banks, out of 74,398 such villages identified, 74,194 villages have been covered by March 2012, the government says.
Apart from this, to channelise savings into investments and reach out to a larger number of small investors, market regulator SEBI has asked depository participants, which manage investors' demat accounts, have been asked to provide the small individual investors with an option to get a 'Basic Service Demat Account (BSDA)' with limited services and nil or small charges.
The RBI has also set up a committee under Deputy Governor KC Chakrabarty to spearhead efforts for ensuring access to financial services. The Financial Inclusion Advisory Committee (FIAC) is expected to suggest appropriate regulatory framework to ensure that financial inclusion and financial stability move in tandem. Observing that there has been significant, albeit slow, progress towards greater financial Inclusion, the country's monetary authority said that ensuring accessible and affordable financial services in all the six lakh villages was a ‘herculean task’ and given the enormity of the task, "a lot of ground still needed to be covered".
STEPS TOWARDS FINANCIAL INCLUSION
- RBI has asked banks to do away with the 'no-frills' tag attached with saving accounts opened as part of financial inclusion.
- Public Sector Banks to open at least one account per family.
- SEBI has asked depository participants to provide investors with an option for a 'Basic Service Demat Account (BSDA)' with limited services and nil or small charges.
- RBI aims to develop a modern electronic payments system.
- Government to use the National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) to disburse subsidies.
Centre and state-owned banks will work together to provide formal baking services to the entire population.
- Government has asked banks to review the level of activity in rural accounts which were opened under financial inclusion drives.
- Aadhaar-enabled system for direct cash transfer to beneficiaries under social schemes such as MNREGA and pensions has been launched.
- The government and the insurance industry are working to increase penetration of insurance in the country.
— Nishikant Dwivedi, PTI
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