Banking Still Miles Away from Jalanga
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Saraswati Das, 32, walks 20 km whenever she has to carry out a banking transaction. The walks have become more frequent of late because membership of the self-help group (SHG) she heads has been growing.
Das lives in Jalanga, a small village in Orissa’s Bhadrak district. Government records show Jalanga in the list of areas with 100 per cent financial inclusion.
She leads Sri Gobind Anchalika Sangha, a conglomerate of 32 SHGs based at Jalanga, which has a population of 3,360 and a total land holding of 486 hectares. The village has over 400 no-frills accounts and 175 people who have taken bank loans.
Das, however, now hopes for better days as Jalanga had an unusual visitor on Thursday – Reserve Bank of India Governor D Subbarao. The visit was a part of the central bank’s decision to reach out to villages in remote areas to spread the message of financial inclusion. Kolkata-based UCO Bank adopted the village on the same day.
RBI calls it a “financial outreach” programme, under which it will take stock of the financial condition of 200-odd villages in about eight months – a first-of-its-kind initiative from the central bank.
So far, the governor and his four deputies have visited eight villages (from Minicoy – the outermost island of Lakshadweep – to Khonoma, a picturesque village 20 km west of Kohima in Nagaland) and will visit 12 more.