Thursday, September 3, 2009

March of Universal Financial Access

Debate is still in full swing for attaining the goal of financial inclusion in stipulated time-frame to usher India in a new age of institutional finances. The rudimentary goal of financial inclusion in Indian perspective is very compatibles with the long sought-after necessity of expanding institutional financial services to the unreached segment of society. It would be imperative here to see that despite witnessing spectacular success with regulated inclination of Indian financial sector still a considerable pool of population is out from its core ambit.
These financially untapped common masses are not only missing the access of formal banking services but they are also deprived from a proper entitlement which eventually outpaced them from mainstream and leads them in the trajectory of exploitative money lending markets.

Such conditional fall leads them to the financial viciousness and alarming indebtedness that altered the course of their lives; for checking these sorts of unfortunate developments, institutional financial delivery at rational interest rate would be a plausible panacea. As the maladies of indebtedness being evident among the farmers, it’s an urgent need to combat these problems on two different front; first to raise the reach of institutional financial services among untapped groups with avoiding the practices of exorbitant charges as some of Micro Financial Institutions (MFIs) are indulged in similar practices and second to offer timely credits for productive purposes instead for consumption.
Models of Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) and co-operative banks could be the fine example for newly emerging Micro financial institutions by lessening their operating cost through technological innovation and adaptation to local conditions and wisdom of practices.
Movement of Universal Financial Access or UFA is a very comprehensively shaped idea that drawn and being propagated by the distinguished banker Mr. Sanjaya Bhargava who left his illustrating full time career for activism of financial inclusion. The basic idea of UFA is meticulously woven for the conditions which are frequent in bottom level of banking practices in India.
Today lack of entitlement primarily fuelled by the low penetration of formal banking and other services among the marginalized section especially in rural areas. UFA movement is trying to bridge the gap between actual demand and supply scenario by tracing the operational loopholes in existing Micro financial institutions and retrieving solutions for better materialization of financial inclusion.

Indeed the conceptualization of financial inclusion by UFA evangelist introduces a new chapter of innovation in Indian financial sector entrusted with broad welfare aims. The drive for universal financial access becomes more vital especially it’s concern with languishing fortune of farmers and others from the bottom of pyramid who grossly left untouched from the great Indian growth story, so its focus area is adverse tantamount generated from unequal growth agenda.
UFA stressed for appropriating technological innovation in the operational domain by the financial institutions in rural areas to curb the cumbersome expense on its service delivery. Revolution in Telecommunication sector is the finest available example before the financial institutions to spread their products at affordable price in hassle free environment.

Consequently with such approaches Telecommunication today enjoying the most respectable position in Indian business and its bullish impact could be visualized any where,spectacular monthly addition of four million subscriber bases with growing Average Revenue per Users(ARPU) rate signaling the makeshift of a sluggish sector into a full bloom arena.At policy level government is too looking serious to attain the goal of financial inclusion by lending directives to Reserve Bank of India,to accommodate the hitherto unbaked persons.
Social schemes like NREGA, Indira Awas Yojna, Self Help Groups etc;are helping the conducive proceedings of financial inclusion plan since the all transactions has to be dealt only through the banks now that giving a lease for institutional financial awareness.

Unique Identification Programme (UID) is an other initiative of government under the visionary chairmanship of Mr. Nandan Nilekani, to end the identity crisis among a large chunks of population who hitherto were not able to avail the benefits of institutional support as they were lacking to fulfills the Know Your Customers(KYC) norms and other hassle full obligations. Previously the only exceptions were the Regional Rural Banks (RRB) & Co-operative Banks as they actively used to practicing the Different Rate of Interest Schemes (DRI) to weaker sections with no frills account services.
Comercial banks including Private sector banks & privately MFIs have to go a long way to come as par the endeavour made by the RRBs & Co- Operative banks through their rural focused & exactly need based services to cater the aspirations of Common Men (Aam Aadmi).

This is the prime area where the UFA movement can persuade to new age players in financial sectors for making action on many previously drifted approaches ;so, first of all it is most essential to be pragmatic on rural India’s needs and than making such effective efforts to contain the handicaps of attaining the full scale financial inclusion.Movements like UFA has greater bearing for the plights of small house holds who involves in unorganized sector and largely defunct from any institutional favour for their basic financial needs.
At this point, rural India’s today needs big push from all sides as the rural hinterland craves for basic facilities & proper opportunities that forces there dwellers towards upward migration in bigger cities; for maintaining equilibrium of prosperities (growth & effectiveness)these area must be given their due.

Financial Services has to play a major role in further development of rural India since investment in different domains going to play catalyst role in economic activities and productions. A grass root effort of spurting entrepreneurship can effectively address the rural areas .
A country like India with billion plus size of population could hardly underrate the importance of its primary sector; so, it should be the foremost aim of any noble initiatives like Universal Financial Access (UFA) to spread the word for saving the villages from despair and infuse hope in these core areas through ensuring basic facilities. Lot of wishes for UFAs like phenomenon movement … hope this movement would relentlessly strive for a vibrant ecosystem that may forward financial inclusion ahead and increase access to financial services in India in very democratic manner.

Atul Kumar Thakur
September2nd 2009, New Delhi


  1. Thanks for such introduction with UFA like movement-Amit Shah,Anand(Gujrat)

  2. Dear Atul,
    Liked your sensible post on such grass roots initiatives but for its execution we must have a proper awareness in common mass first.Wishing you for such great initiatives..
    Rupesh Banerjee,New Delhi