Jan Dhan Yojna- Bursting the bubble of financial inclusion

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The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana was among a slew of schemes that were launched when the present NDA Government came to power in 2014. Did it give access to banking facilities for the rural Indian? How helpful was the Life Insurance cover provided by PMJDY? Which instruments really helped the unbanked Indian by opening a bank account? According to the World Bank Findex Report only 53% of Indians had a bank account in 2014 compared to the figure of 36% in 2011. The figure for Mobile Banking was even lower at only 2% of the population. The rise in the numbers was very slow and thus, the need for this scheme was felt.The aim of the scheme was to bank the unbanked and then extend other government services through a combination of Aadhaar Cards and RuPay Debit Cards.

This scheme is crucial for many reasons. Firstly, it promotes savings among the general populace. Moreover, it promotes formal credit channels and protects the people from unscrupulous money lenders. Lastly, it puts a check on leakages in the public welfare system. At the time of the launch of the scheme, the government included a lot of deliverables such as a Household Insurance Cover of INR 1,00,000 and an individual overdraft facility of INR 5,000. Four years have passed since the launch of the scheme and the time for an on ground assessment is right to differentiate the tangible from the claims [1].

Jan Dhan Yojana should not be looked upon in isolation. It is a part of a scheme, where various government policies have been interlinked with an aim of spreading welfare. The biggest benefit of the Jan Dhan Yojana has been the fact that monetary benefits associated with various government schemes are now directly reaching the intended people instead of the middle men. In Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh, banana farmers are receiving payments in cheques instead of cash, upon selling their produce in Vijaywada1. Similarly, under the Ujjwala Yojana gas connections have been given to many rural households. The PMJDY has also been linked to various government insurance schemes like Pradhan Mantri Bima Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana. These schemes essentially help families get up on their feet again in case some casualty happens with the bread earner. For example, in Polavaram village of Andhra Pradesh, closed ones of deceased received the insurance amount within a week of the death [2]. Without having a bank account, it would be very difficult to transfer the benefits of these schemes. PMJDY has also impacted on the social side. It has been noticed that earlier men used to spend their earnings from various schemes on alcohol. Now this has been curbed in some places according to a study by The State Bank of India’s Economic Research Wing. This is because money in bank is less luring as compared to cash, with regards to spending on intoxicants. The same study also showed that states with higher adoption of PMJDY have had a meaningful drop in inflation.

All that being said, we still have a long way to go before we idolize PMJDY. Let’s see how and where this scheme fails to meet its major underlying objectives. The foremost issue complies with the overdraft facility. Due to the overdraft facility of INR 3000, a lot of people have opened PMJDY accounts to avail the facility. This led to people opening multiple accounts and not actually using these accounts. According to a Microsave study done in 2016, it was inferred that there were 33% duplicate accounts[3].

The scheme further states that a life insurance cover of INR 30000 was to be provided to each PMJDY account holder. But the implementation of this insurance is left to the banks who will be creating the PMJDY accounts. The absence of a standard guideline for the above opens the possibility for the banks to manipulate the account holders by selling them different financial instruments in the name of insurances  [4].

Though people have opened PMJDY accounts, a 2016 study by Yakshup Chopra and Prasanna Tantri, researchers at the Indian School of Business, and University of Maryland professor Nagpurnanand R. Prabhala, shows that 28% of these accounts have remained non-operational for the last 6 months.[5]

Also there is a severe issue of concern that to decrease the number of zero balance accounts, a lot of banks have tried to tamper with the statistics by depositing INR 1 the accounts[6].

On the functional side, ATMs too have started to become a thorn in the shoe. RBI in 2014 had permitted banks to levy charges on transactions through ATMs beyond a certain number of transactions. Further, field studies have shown that there has been a dearth of functional ATMs in rural areas. Although the government had distributed Rupay debit cards to all those opening accounts under Jan Dhan Yojana but such bottlenecks with ATMs deter the account bearers from availing the facilities.7 There are hardly any ATM and bank branches which are disabled-friendly. It is also very hard for them to get the documents required for opening up the account under the Jan Dhan Yojana. Financial inclusion schemes have not been devised keeping in mind the disabled and the elderly section of the society [7].

On the financial front, instruments which are offered are designed keeping in mind the salaried segment. Farmers and other people who do not have regular income but earn money in spurts cannot utilise the benefits of such instruments. There is a need to customise the instruments for all the segments of the unbanked. Of the total 29.6 crore new bank accounts opened, nearly 60% belong to the rural people [6].

The Jan Dhan Yojna by the NDA government was music to the ears during the times before its launch. The amalgamation of ‘financial inclusion’ to it brought the necessary light it needed. But as the scheme rolled off, there were visible pitfalls as well as deviations from what was expected out of it from both the government and the banks involved. If the PMJDY accounts were seeded to Aadhar details, then the duplication of the bank accounts could be thwarted and the actual performance of PMJDY can be measured. Jan dhan yojana is currently under department of financial services which already has a lot of initiatives and responsibilities. There is a need for separate body to monitor the developments under this scheme.

Thus, there is a need of severe reforms to be taken if the government wants to make the scheme stand out of the box and not let it dissolve like the other government schemes [6].

References:

  1. The World Bank (2014), Financial Inclusion Data/ Global Findex. Retrieved from http://datatopics.worldbank.org/financialinclusion/country/india,
  2. Guntiro Naga Sridhar (2016, February 15) The Hindu Business Line. Retrieved from https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/specials/india-file/polavaram-is-reaping-the-jan-dhan-benefit/article8241246.eceNupur Anand, Business Standard (2016, March 12),
  3. Duplicate accounts under Jan Dhan plan rising: Survey. Retrieved from https://www.business-standard.com/article/finance/duplicate-accounts-under-jan-dhan-yojana-on-rise-116031100992_1.html
  4. Nazim Khan, Money Control (2014, Sep 03), Critics attack ‘wasteful, ineffective’ PM Jan Dhan Yojana. Retrieved from https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/economy/critics-attack-wasteful-ineffective-pm-jan-dhan-yojana-1328517.html\
  5. Yakshup Chopra, Prasanna Tantri, researchers at the Indian School of Business, and University of Maryland professor Nagpurnanand R. Prabhala. Retrieved from https://www.livemint.com/Opinion/wfertnZlyGRTmGiyGnJLrI/The-admirable-success-of-the-JanDhan-Yojana.html
  6. Anuj Srivas, The Wire (2017, Sep 14), Jan Dhan Yojana, One Rupee Balance and the Dormancy-Duplication Problem. Retrieved from https://thewire.in/economy/jan-dhan-yojana-one-rupee-balance-dormancy-duplication-problem
  7. Charan Singh, The Wire (2017, Sep 01), Jan Dhan at Three: Need for Linking Financial Inclusion to Socioeconomic Development. Retrieved from https://thewire.in/economy/jan-dhan-three-need-linking-financial-inclusion-socioeconomic-development

Authors-

Vedika Murdia

Harshit Malhotra

Hemil Dhruv

Jishnu Mitra

Ria  Mittal

Supratim Basu

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Break

break

My pajamas are hanging on the hook behind my door. And so are my pants. They are the only two things in place right now. My bed is a clutter, a humdrum, and so is my mind. Unfolded clothes, wrappers of eaten chocolates, curled up socks, misunderstood emotions, abhorring thoughts and mental turmoil- all of these echoing loud thuds in my mind…bang bang bang! Their thwacks so strong, so impacting, that they have numbed all other sensations, shut the doors to the outside.

And here I sit, on one corner of my messed up bed, on other corner of my messed up mind, blandly staring at each of these socks and wrappers and vivid emotions as they dance in front of my eyes, seemingly singing a lullaby, cradling me like a child.

Oh…I must sleep. My eyes have gone heavy.

I snuggle into the same tiny corner and sleep.

Least, I try to.

Its 2:00 am.

I am wide awake.

My eyes don’t comply.

They deny being shut.

I start to think- what went wrong? Was it today or something that happened weeks ago?

For all I reckon, it is déjà vu. This isn’t anything new. This happened before. This is happening again.

How did I escape it? Did I?

Oh..My mind might explode to pieces!

I must sleep.

No.

Instead, I mechanically stand up. A whim, if you may say so. I scan around.

I pause.

I pause to that red glistening wrapper of chocolate, pressed under my book. I pick it up, and all its other likes- into the dustbin they go; socks- into the laundry bag; clothes- onto the hook. I straighten the wrinkles on my bed-sheet.

I slip into a pair of neatly washed pyjamas, a loose, comfy, double sized shirt; tie a bun over my head, drive the fan’s regulator to full speed, turn the lights off and take a nice shower. Then, I tune to the lightest melodies, switch off my phone, open the curtains, windows next, and finally kiss the pillow.

As I relax, I feel light-headed. A sense of victory resurrects the dilemmas- half the mess seems off the board- the other half remaining.

No, I do not resolve the other half now. For now, all I know is that I would be better tomorrow. For all I know is that I might not be able to clear the remaining clutter- but may be drop by drop- part by part- it would be erased.

For all I know is that in such times, all I would need is a break- a break from the outside, but more necessarily, a break from my own self, a break from the inside.

In the little corner of my mind

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As children, there are a few, if not many-a-memories, that we fondly remember. Memories that are so plain, so routine, and so subtle, that their mere simplicity makes them mesmerizing, rather intriguing. The ease with which they seep through us, the solace with which they clad themselves and the slight tinge of nostalgia they carry within their very souls- all of this allows us to think that these memories live a life of their own.

A life they are born with, but a life which never dies.

When I stroll on my terrace, above me, a starry studded night, a night when the only sounds that resonate in my ears are the night birds’ cooing or the silent whispering of wasps- is the kind of night when these memories rise from within a cloister in mind, and resurrect. It would so happen, and happen so inadvertently, that my lips would curl up into a smile, a smile so natural and elusive, that were it not for the strain on my cheeks, I could have never known its very existence. In that very hypnotic night, where the stars twinkle like smithereens of diamonds, and the moon resembles a soldier on guard, I seem to myself a puny creation of nature.

 In that night I realize how little a life we live, and how big a life we die. I realize how little a life we laugh and how big a life we cry.

As I still amble into my thoughts, I see how the clouds in the night sky veil the moon behind them, fogging its subtle blaze and blanketing its cool. I see the moon telling me that these clouds are an illusion, temporary and sometimes even ephemeral, and it telling me that its blaze the real permanence. I see those vague strokes of white light offering me a hope that I rarely see on such nights. In that very night I see a silhouetted moon energizing hope within me.

I think a lot many times of the many moons we possess in life, of the many moons that have come and gone and the many moons that blaze again. I hope I’d be that moon for someone, I hope we all be, at least for one little mind, that might be strolling on a terrace.

The Mystical Reality

Hunger lured him. More than anything else, he wanted a dry, discarded piece of bread. No love, no clothes, just something to fill the deep abyss that lingered inside his stomach. His eyes spoke infinity, and as he saw the happy souls through the glass tinted doors of the so called plush cafeteria, in which I too were one, I could watch him standing in oblivion, staring. The exacerbated hunger caged in him, the fierce disapproval, were all simmering inside him. I never paid much attention to these, as poverty, I considered, was inevitable and omnipresent.

But this one was distinct. I got up and inched towards him while he saw the others exploding in laughter and enjoying their merry time. With every step closer, I knew it was coming, the vague image taking shape. Then it struck me harder, harder than a hammer, that the naive little fellow shared a striking resemblance with my brother. Those emulated handsome and innocent features wrapped in dust and mud and grease, nestled in poverty and desolation. I went towards him and he put his bowl forward. The urge to hear the rattling of coins was eminent on his face. I held his hand and took him inside the cafeteria. The manager frowned but I paid an extra penny.

As he snapped his food, unable to absorb the ambiance and the meal in one go, I closed my eyes. Happiest birthday to my long lost brother.

Some glasses of perception blur your vision for life

You are in your room with no one to mess around with you and bother you, tightly tucked in and nestled in your warm blanket, a nice cup of hot coffee in one hand, a novel in other.

It is a Sunday morning, it is drizzling outside…but wait, it is heavily pouring now. Through a chink in your window, you see outside, but you dont want to open it completely, to be secured in the four walls of your room. You are reading a nice novel, a fiction. You let yourself relax, the week days had flummoxed you with all that trauma and nuisances that your bosses and colleagues had led you into…But there is nothing now. You are happy to be away, in your warm and cosy room….it is just you and your coffee and the blanket and the rain and the silence you dwell into. You know you would soon be sleeping, holding your pillow tight, keeping your novel to one side and passing into a reverie. All seems impeccable. You cannot be more thankful.

Suddenly the roof you were admiring so graciously is no more.

The four walls of your room vanish like smoke in the air.

The heavy rain is pouring with its full might.

You have your blanket which is now too heavy with water soaked in through its core.

You are baffled. You run for shelter but the blanket is too heavy.

You think of abandoning it.

But then strikes a painful realization, the blanket unnaturally seems your last possession. You can’t leave it.

With the rain blinding you completely, you mark a gaze to see if you can find a shelter. Vacuously you just run around .All wet and barefooted with the blanket hanging like a dead man on your shoulders.

Slowly, the rain halts. You see the sun now, blazing in its full might. You see the land losing water, your clothes only damp now, your blanket slowly becoming lighter. You now want the sun to be lenient, to be less scorching. Your skin burns, you become sweaty, your blanket makes it worse. You want to throw it away but you can’t. You see the leaves going brown, the flowers wilting, no signs of life around; you are frightened to the core.

Your feet burn .You need your people around, they might be worried, looking for you, and you feel like weeping, sobbing, crying, shouting, screaming. But then your throat is choked, you can’t scream, you can’t call for help, the sun isn’t good enough. Nothing fits into place. You miss your home; you want your mother, your family, your colleagues and bosses.

Then you hear voices, merry and happy, your hopes rise. Voices of children. You walk fast, your legs moving faster than ever, you reach the end of a cliff. As you move closer, the voices become less vague, clearer; you are just at the brink of the cliff. The miasma is unbearable. You realize the voices come from below, you hear them calling out your name, you want to shout, tell them where you are, but it is worthless. Your throat is still clogged as if a fish bone has been stuck. You feel everything being vandalized, a sour bitter end.

You decide on jumping from the cliff, you find it the easiest option, for the last time you close your eyes and begin the countdown….

3…2…1

JUMP!!!!

You are dead, are you?

You think so but you are not.

 You open your eyes and see around.

You see your room, your blanket which is not soaked in water, it is still cosy and comforting, your novel in the same demeanour as you had kept before passing into sleep.

You realize it was a reverie….or maybe a nightmare. Everything you saw was just smoke and mirrors.

You sit there for minutes, in the bed, just staring around numb and baffled and dumbstruck.

You suddenly feel full, your phone rings….it is your boss calling.

You become happy to see his face popping out of your smart phone screen even on a Sunday morning.

You realize it is a new you.

You greet him graciously. He tells you there is an urgent meeting. You need to report in the office.

You dont frown, dont wrinkle your nose.

You become happier, rather contented, you love your life, your home, your boss and the constant chatters. You love it all.

You check out through the chink again.

 It is still raining.