India’s Banking Revolution Has Left Its Villagers Behind
By Bibhudatta Pradhan and Vrishti Beniwal
A shortage of bank branches and ATMs across India’s hinterland is holding back Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s financial inclusion efforts and risks angering rural voters ahead of elections next year.
After taking office in 2014, Modi set an ambitious target to open a bank account for every household to ensure welfare funds flow directly to India’s poor, while improving access to credit and insurance programs. He pushed policies that helped bring 310 million people into the formal banking system in just four years, according to the World Bank. But many of India’s villages still lack bank branches or ATMs to help service these new customers, while the pace of building new financial infrastructure has actually slowed.
Photo courtesy of Satish Krishnamurthy.