Analysis of Rangarajan Committee reports

02/08/2020 0 By indiafreenotes
  • The Rangarajan Committee recommended that extending outreach on a scale envisaged under NRFIP would be possible only by leveraging technology to open up channels beyond branch network.
  • Adoption of appropriate technology would enable the branches to go where the customer is present instead of the other way round. This, however, is in addition to extending traditional mode of banking by targeted branch expansion in identified districts.
  • The Business Facilitator/Business Correspondent (BF/BC) models riding on appropriate technology can deliver this outreach and should form the core of the strategy for extending financial inclusion.
  • The Committee has made some recommendations for relaxation of norms for expanding the coverage of BF/BC. Ultimately, banks should endeavour to have a BC touch point in each of the 6, 00,000 villages in the country.

FI as a policy initiative entered the banking lexicon only after the recommendations of the Rangarajan Committee in 2008. It began to attract the attention of stakeholders when banks realised the significance of connecting with more people for business growth. The span of financial services included provision of basic savings accounts, and access to adequate credit at affordable costs to vulnerable groups such as the excluded sections of the society and low-income households. The experience of microfinance units in India and abroad shows that vulnerable groups who pay usurious interest rates to local moneylenders, can also be worthy borrowers of banks. One of the broader objectives of FI is to pull the poor community out of the net of exploitative moneylenders. But despite such emphasis, the penetration of banking services was initially mostly confined to urban areas and major cities, after which they started spreading to the hinterland. FI thus became an integral part of the business domain of banks, with RBI advising all public and private banks to submit a board-approved, three-year FI plan (FIP) starting from April 2010. These plans broadly included self-set targets in terms of bricks-and-mortar branches in rural areas, clearly indicating coverage of unbanked villages with population above 2,000 and those with population below 2,000; deployment of Business Correspondents1 (BCs) and use of electronic/kiosk modes for provision of financial services; opening of no-frills accounts; and so on. For the dispensation of credit, Kisan Credit Cards (KCC), General Credit Cards (GCC), and other specific products designed to cater to the financially excluded segments, were introduced. Such accelerated microcredit was part of priority sector lending schemes of banks. Further, banks were advised to integrate FIPs with their business plans and to include the criteria on FI as a parameter in the performance evaluation metrics of their staff.

Among associated developments, RuPay – an Indian domestic debit card – was introduced on 26 March 2012 by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). It has been a game changer in creating better digital infrastructure and enabled faster penetration of debit card culture.

The progress of financial inclusion

Faster implementation of FIPs is seen after 2010-11. Commercial banks opened new rural branches, increased coverage of villages, set up ATMs and digital kiosks, deployed BCs, opened no-frills accounts, and provided credit through KCCs and GCCs. The introduction of core banking technology and proliferation of alternate delivery channels aided the process of inclusion on a larger scale. The statistics on key banking network give a sense of the pace of progress of banking outreach as part of FI.

Progress of financial inclusion at a glance

Parameter of financial inclusion March 2010 March 2016 March 2017
Number of Bank branches in villages 33,378 51,830 50,860
Number of Business Correspondents (BCs) 34,174 531,229 543,472
Number of other forms of banking touch points 142 3,248 3,761
Total number of banking touch points 67,694 586,307 598,093
Number of BSBDA* (in millions) 73 469 533
Deposits in BSBDA (Amount in Rs. billions) 55 636 977