Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday asked the Reserve Bank to prepare a 20-year road map for financial inclusion and nudged banks to be considerate in giving loans to the poor as also while making recoveries from them, especially farmers.
“RBI will be completing 100 years in 2035…it will be appropriate for the central bank to work on the theme of financial inclusion and prepare a road map for achieving it,” he said while addressing a function to mark the 80th anniversary of the Reserve Bank of India.
The other milestones for achieving financial inclusion could be 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in 2019, 75th year of Independence in 2022, 90th anniversary of RBI in 2025 and 100 years of RBI in 2035, the Prime Minister said.
“These are four important dates…we can create a road map for financial inclusion,” he said, adding that the financial inclusion should not remain a government programme but should become “an article of faith”.
Expressing concern of farmers’ suicides and the plight of the poor people in the country, PM Modi asked the bankers to show concern in providing financial assistance to the poor.
Farmers’ plight should, he added, shake up the conscience of the banking sector.
“Our farmers commit suicide. The pain of this should not only be restricted to newspapers and TV screens. When farmer dies, does it shake the heart of banking sector? Because of taking loan from money lender, he has to face death,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.
The Prime Minister also called upon the bankers to extend credit to resource rich eastern states.
The Prime Minister said: “As RBI celebrates 80 years, can we think within ourselves that we will expand our banking sector so much that farmers would not have to commit suicide because of huge debt burden. Can we not dream of this? I do not believe by helping poor a bank will become insolvent.”
PM Modi urged banks to come up with creative financial inclusion instruments to help prevent farmer suicides, adding that providing assistance to farmers would also help in promoting environment friendly initiatives.
The banks, which take pride in funding green initiatives, should also provide funds to farmers for planting trees which is as important as reducing carbon emission by factories, he said, adding: “I come as a representative of the poor, underprivileged, marginalised and tribal’s… I seek on their behalf and trust you will not disappoint me.”
PM Narendra Modi said that the success of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana and the Direct Benefit Transfer of LPG subsidy had shown the potential of the enormous role that the banking sector can play in ensuring financial inclusion.
Along with economic and social parameters, there is also a need to think of a geographical parameter as well for financial inclusion, he said, adding that eastern India had immense economic potential, and the banking sector should recognise and plan for this.
As part of his ‘Make in India’ initiative, PM Modi urged RBI to take the lead in ensuring that India starts to manufacture the paper and ink that are used to print currency notes.
Appreciating the role played by RBI over the last 80 years, the Prime Minister complimented the RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, for his grasp and clarity on economic issues.