OPINION: Modi’s Financial Inclusion Scheme Is Not As Inclusive As You Might Have Thought
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
The government’s ambitious financial inclusion programme is about to get bigger. Last week, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced that the target for new bank accounts under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana had been revised from 7.5 crore to 10 crore by January 26, 2015.
Yet while the government seems to be casting its net wider, it has also quietly made changes to the scheme that narrows down the list of those who qualify for its incentives. Accompanying news that up to 75% of the new bank accounts opened have zero balance, comes word that the perks meant to add people to the banking net, such as a subsidised life insurance cover and overdraft facilities, will not be available to all those who signed up.
The Jan Dhan Yojana was meant to be one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s landmark schemes, introduced with the intent of bringing the entire country into the financial network by January 26, 2015. To encourage people to apply for new accounts, the government announced several incentives.
Those perks, however, will no longer go out to everyone. In guidelines sent to banks last week, the government added conditions for those account holders who will be eligible to claim these benefits, according to a report by the business daily Mint.