The Execution of Financial Inclusion- Oh What A Confusion! By Raji Ajwani-Ramchandani


( Picture  : Taken by the author during a research visit in the slums of Pune city)

Financial Inclusion generally gets a fresh lease around elections,

When the mango person becomes the cynosure of a lot of attention


There is an accelerated push to open theme based banks

Women centric, poor centric to help ‘eradicate poverty’- is generally the favorite rant


But things are quite interesting when viewed at the grassroots level

‘Mor’ reports don’t seem to translate into simpler banking for the folks operating from the base level,


Let us understand this through the stories of Bharat Ram and Parvati

This can hopefully illustrate the lacunae prevailing at the foothills of the mountain of the ‘pro poor’ policies


Bharat Ram a laborer wanted to send some money home for his ailing mother

But didn’t have a bank account since he was new in the city and worked a daily laborer


The bank officials asked him for a proof of residence and identity

A registered rental agreement or a recent bill- of water, or electricity


‘Sir I pay cash and don’t have a rent agreement’ said Bharat Ram

‘Only an Aadhar card which I can try and find, but which has the address of my farm’


‘I came to the city because two famines wiped out my crops and I went into debt’

‘Now please help me send this money quickly to me mother who is writhing in pain in her bed’


The bank official looked at Bharat Ram and said ‘I know it’s hard but you know we have to comply with KYC’

‘We sympathize with you but what can we do –its governments policy’


Only account holders can remit funds from this branch’

‘For the ‘others’ there are other centers, but you will have to take a chance….’


‘Go between 8 am to 10 am and stand in queue that piles up outside that service branch’

‘If it’s not too busy or if the cashier shows up you might get a chance’


‘But Sir, if I go and stand there during that time’

‘How do I earn my daily wage-please understand my bind’


The bank official peered over the thick frame of reading glasses

And went on to his ‘job’ of ticking and signing the vouchers, forms and bills


And then there is the curious case of Parvati Bai’s buffalo loan

Which was sanctioned by submitting the photograph of Sunita’s new born


Sunita was the pride and joy of  Bhoolbhoolaiya village classified by banks as a ‘rural zone’

Her kids were much sought after models –especially when the villagers wanted an allied agricultural loan


Sunita’s owner was a benevolent lady who would let the villagers borrow the buffaloes

For a small fee which was usually paid contingent to them getting the ‘green notes’


Parvati Bai followed the standard village practice

Of submitting the documents and hiring a tout who helped her to figure out the profit sharing piece


Even after dividing the booty, it was money nonetheless

Which would come in handy to splatter a coat of paint outside the house and buy her son a new dress


She was supposed to start a small dairy business with the money

The nearest dairy owned by the local don was a bumpy, and uncomfortable two hour arduous journey


‘I can start a business but who will collect the milk from my village’

‘And will I even get a penny incase of any spoilage?”


‘So why bother about the future when I have the present to worry about?”

‘Whoever thought about this was a big babu-no doubt’


Bharat Ram on the other hand walked to a slum after the sun set that evening

And made arrangements with a hawala don to deliver money to his kith and kin


Strange are the policies designed such that they don’t seem to work

In day to day situations and can’t stand the test of the turf


And while much discourse is followed by a deluge of more…

By bada babus, learned sahebs netas and leaders galore


The poor find ways to eek their lives from the maze of defunct rules and policies

Designed in board rooms, compressed by glass ceilings –headless, meaningless and full of fallacies..

By Raji Ajwani-Ramchandani

She is an Assistant Professor in the Finance Center of Excellence at SCMHRD,Pune,India.
She has over 14 years of work experience in the sectors of Banking,IT,Entertainment and Education and has worked with organizations like YES Bank and Time Warner Cable.
She is currently a Doctoral Candidate at the Symbiosis International University and is pursuing her PhD in the area of Microfinance.
Her academic and research interests lie in Banking, Microfinance and Sustainable Development Initiatives at the ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’.

For more articles by Raji Ajwani-Ramchandani follow

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.