Prime Minister Narendra Modi today launched his government's mega scheme 'Jan Dhan Yojana', declaring that it was aimed at eradicating financial untouchability by providing bank accounts to the poor.
On the inaugural day, a record 1.5 crore bank accounts were opened across the country, the largest such exercise on a single day possibly anywhere in the world.
Unveiling the scheme within 100 days of forming the new government, Modi said, it will cover 7.5 crore people by January 26, 2015, who will be provided zero-balance bank account with RuPay debit card, life insurance cover of Rs 30,000 in addition to accidental insurance cover of Rs 1 lakh.
Later the account holders will be provided an overdraft facility of up to Rs 5,000.
"If Mahatma Gandhi worked to remove social untouchability, if we want to get rid of poverty, then we have to first get rid of financial untouchability. We have to connect every person with the financial system. And for that this programme has been given impetus," he said, adding, "when a bank account is opened, it's a step towards joining economic mainstream."
Modi recalled the bank nationalisation of 1969 with the avowed objective of spreading the reach of financial system to the doorsteps of poor. "But I regret to say that after 68 years of independence, not even 68 per cent of population is covered by the banking system," he said.
The scheme was simultaneously launched at multiple places by 20 Chief Ministers, several Union Ministers, including Information Minister Prakash Javadekar at Pune, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad at Chennai, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at Bhopal, Home Minister Rajnath Singh at Lucknow and HRD Minister Smriti Irani at Surat.
There were in all 600 programmes and 77,852 camps were organised on the opening day to open bank accounts.
India's Modi: Banking for all to end "financial untouchability"
(Reuters) Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised on Thursday to end "financial untouchability" with a scheme to ensure the majority of households in his country of nearly 1.3 billion people has a bank account within months.
If successful, the scheme could help mend strained state finances by better targeting billions of dollars in welfare spending as well as relieving poverty in a country where about 40 percent of the population has no access to banking.
"Mahatma Gandhi tried to end untouchability in the society," Modi said, referring to modern India's founding father and his drive to stamp out bias based on the traditional