Women to lead doorstep banking in UP countryside
As part of its overarching mission to empower women and make banking services available to villages, the UP government has launched an ambitious Sakhi Scheme to recruit BCs.
The vision of ‘financial inclusion’ would largely remain in the domain of a blueprint unless the vast countryside is integrated into the formal banking channel.
The socio-economic realities of the villages, including literacy ratio, lack of public transportation etc, coupled with the sparse penetration of commercial and other bank outlets in the rural areas are among the main factors for the sub-optimal access to banking products.
With the government adopting the mode of direct transfer of money, including subsidies, old-age pension, farm loan waivers etc, to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries, there is now a greater need to facilitate doorstep banking services in villages and even in smaller towns.
Against this backdrop, the role of banking correspondents (BCs) hired by the commercial banks to dispense commonly used banking services, such as depositing and withdrawing money, is becoming vital going forward.
As part of its overarching mission to empower women and make banking services available to villages, the Uttar Pradesh (UP) government has launched an ambitious Sakhi Scheme to recruit BCs.
BCs are authorized representatives of a bank and are supposed to provide basic financial services like cash deposits and withdrawals to the people. They normally carry a mobile device or micro ATM for cash transactions, money transfers, account opening etc with the help of swiping the debit card or by fingerprint scanning.
So far, the Yogi Adityanath government has already recruited and trained 17,500 BCs under the scheme, while the training of the remaining personnel is underway, according to UP additional chief secretary, rural development department, Manoj Kumar Singh.
Under the State Rural Livelihood Mission, 30,000 women are being prepared for the job of BCs in partnership with the Bank of Baroda. The UP Industrial Consultants Limited is also making its contributions as a partner in this initiative, Singh informed.
Earlier, the UP government had appointed 500 male and female BCs through UP Scheduled Castes Finance Development Corporation Limited. In fact, the state accords priority to retired soldiers and teachers as well as women in appointment as BCs.
Under the mandatory requirements for the BC post, an applicant should be 12th-grade passed, computer-savvy and without a police case against them. Besides, the applicant has to pass a test as well.
(Virendra Singh Rawat is a Lucknow-based journalist who writes on contemporary issues of industry, economy, agriculture, infrastructure, budget etc.)