In order to address the issues of financial inclusion, the Government of India constituted a Committee on Financial Inclusion under the chairmanship of Dr. C Rangarajan, Ex-Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. On January 4, 2008, the Committee submitted its final report to the then finance minister.
The report defined financial inclusion as “the process of ensuring access to financial services and timely and adequate credit where needed by vulnerable groups such as weaker sections and low income groups at an affordable cost.”
The Committee had recommended the setting up of two funds – Financial Inclusion Fund (FIF) and Financial Inclusion Technology Fund (FITF). The two Funds, which were established with NABARD to act as the coordinating agency of financial inclusion initiatives, were merged to create a new Financial Inclusion Fund vide Government of India notification dated July 17, 2015.
Sanctions/Disbursements under FIF – up to December 31, 2016
The progress in respect of sanctions and disbursements under Financial Inclusion Fund (FIF) up to 31 December 2016, as also cumulative sanctions and disbursements since the inception of the Fund, is as under:
2. Core Functions of the Department
- Manage the Financial Inclusion Fund
- Utilize the fund as per the new Guidelines on FIF, which have been issued by RBI in consultation with the Government of India
3. The Department of Financial Inclusion and Banking Technology (DFIBT) has two internal verticals, namely:
- Financial Inclusion
- Banking Technology
(i) Financial Inclusion
- Giving high priority to the agenda of financial inclusion, the vertical directs its efforts in expanding the scope and coverage of activities and institutions to be involved in financial literacy and capacity building under the scope of Financial Inclusion Fund (FIF)
- Conduct Financial Inclusion drive through Regional Rural Banks (RRBs)/cooperatives/non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Sensitise the staff of RRBs and cooperatives on financial inclusion in a focused manner
- Train business correspondents (BCs)/business facilitators (BFs) of banks with the support of institutions like the Indian Institute of Banking and Finance (IIBF)
- Provide support to RRBs and CBS-enabled cooperatives for adopting ICT solutions to extend their outreach
(ii) Banking Technology:
- Encourage cooperative banks and RRBs across the country to issue RuPay Kisan Credit Cards to all borrowing farmers
- Actively push the issuance of cards through coordination with the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) and interaction with sponsor banks of RRBs and cooperative banks
- Work towards the goal of developing a cashless ecosystem by enabling the farming community to avail all banking facilities at par with urban areas of the country
- Undertake policy formulation, capacity building and networking with various stakeholders to achieve the above objectives
The Government of India, the final authority to take decisions relating to sanctions from the Fund, has constituted an Advisory Board to guide FIF. The Advisory Board has laid special focus on cooperative banks, including primary agricultural credit societies (PACS), to further the agenda of financial inclusion. This has been made possible by providing the co-operative banks with support for capacity building and adoption of technology to function as fully empowered technology-enabled business entities.
4. Broad Achievements of the Department at the national level
Financial Inclusion in India is essentially a bank-led model. A major forward push was given by extending support under the erstwhile FITF to 27 financially-weak RRBs to migrate to Core Banking Solutions (CBS) to be on par with other RRBs. This brought all the RRBs in the country to migrate to the CBS environment.
Furthermore, under the NABARD-initiated Project for CBS in Cooperatives, all 380 licensed rural cooperative banks have been facilitated to migrate to the CBS platform.