Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana was a significant scheme launched by Modi soon after coming to power in 2014. Primarily, it aimed at providing banking facilities to the multitudinal poor and the marginalized section of the society. It is true that since our independence banking facilities were not accessible to millions of the poorest of the poor. Therefore, It was undoubtedly a landmark decision taken by the govt.
It was announced that the account holders would be provided with a debit card plus an accidental insurance amount of one lakh rupees. One could also open an account with zero balance.
ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE GOVT
After 7 years, it is recorded that 43.04 accounts have been opened and an amount of 146,230.71 crores have been deposited in the bank accounts.
Of course, it is not mandatory to maintain any minimum balance under the scheme, yet, it is noted that an amount of 3239 rupees is being maintained by each account holder. This positive intention of the account holders to remain connected to the banking system has come as a boon to the central govt.
What is very significant is that this Yojana has led to women empowerment. Out of 43.04 crores of total accounts opened under the scheme, 55% I.e 23.76 crores accounts belong to the women and it is reported that he average account balance of a woman account holder is 30% more than that of a man.
By and by govt also has added various facilities to the scheme such as the minimum insurance amount has been hiked to 2 lakes from 1 lakh. The over draft limit has gone upto 10000 rupees from a mere 5000 rupees. These accounts have enabled the govt to transfer various benefits to the poor directly eliminating middlemen, there by preventing corruption to some extent. In the latest move govt is focussing on Every Unbanked Adult instead of Every Household. Thus the govt claims that the flagship scheme has resulted in financial inclusion of poor and the marginalized section of the society.
WHAT CONGRESS SAYS
But congress is not convinced of the central claims. The party says that it is a mass deception of the poor. Our ex-finance minister P. Chidambaram says that BSBDA scheme Introduced by RBI has been launched as Jan Dhan Yojana, therefore, it is nothing new, simply old wine in New bottle. They also point out that until May 2014 there were 25 crores accounts already opened. Congress asserts that the scheme is a big scale fraud as immediately after the demonetisation these accounts were used for the purpose of laundering of huge amount.
Chidambaram also points out that Govt is touting that large number of accounts have been opened with zero balance, but the banks converted these accounts into regular saving accounts thus necessitating the account holders to maintain compulsory minimum balance and failing which to pay the fee as applicable under regular saving bank account.
Taking a tough stance against the scheme he says even Jan Dhan Account holder has to pay additional fee if he withdraws the money 5th time. However, no fee is collected till 4th withdrawal. The opposition is very critical of the scheme as they point out that the scheme has added work burden on the bank. It is stated that about 20-25% of the accounts have no balance. It can not be denied that people may be tempted to open a Jan Dhan account to avail the twin benefits of overdraft facility and free insurance.
whatever may be the opposition criticism, the scheme has entered Guniness Book of records as a historical scheme. Undoubtedly, the programme has created genuine financial inclusion. The scheme has changed the poor peoples’ habit of keeping the money in the kitchen box. One hard task the govt needs to focus on is to expand the banking facilities to the remotest areas of the country.