Prime Minister Narendra Modi completed one year in office on Tuesday, and the response to one of his flagship schemes, the Jan Dhan Yojana, which aims at encouraging families across India to have at least one bank account, has been well received.
"The misconceptions that people had before about the scheme are mostly cleared. They have become more aware now. The people who come to open their accounts are mostly from the outskirts of Delhi," said Subrata Ghosh, a senior official working with SBI.
Fifty-four-year-old Manoj Lal came to a South Delhi branch of Punjab National Bank (PNB) along with his wife to collect their pin numbers for their brand new debit cards issued under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana. Manoj, who has never been to school, works as a daily wage labourer, but both he and his wife understand the benefits of enrolling under the flagship scheme.
"I have started saving money from what I earn, the insurance money will help my children in case something happens to me. Also I can get a loan," said Manoj.
"What seems to be working for this scheme is the high levels of awareness about it, even in remote villages. Many who already have accounts, are thinking of opening a second one under the scheme," said an official of PNB.
The scheme which promises a host of benefits also has a flip side. Bank officials implementing the scheme say they just do not have the man power to get all the paperwork done on time. So in many places, beneficiaries have not been issued pass books as yet and have to access their accounts through kiosk centres.
"The cash limit of a kiosk depends on us, we pay from our pockets and next day we are paid by the government. So if my capacity is of Rs.1 lakh, I cannot pay beyond that. There is a lot of load on the server and because of this clients suffer as our work slows down. Customers can’t go to banks for transaction as they have not received pass books," said an official of PNB.
"In the last seven months I have deposited an amount of Rs.13,000 in my account. It is safe to keep the money with the bank rather than keeping it at home,” said Ansar Ali, a daily labourer.