Published On: Fri, Aug 29th, 2014

Millions of India’s Poor Encouraged to Open Bank Accounts

Indian Children

India’s state-owned banks are running a relentless campaign aimed at getting millions of poor Indians who are off the grid to open bank accounts, AP reports. The poor in India, as in the US, are vulnerable to merciless money lenders.

Hundreds of millions of impoverished Indians earning about a dollar a day or less.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi officially launched the program on Thursday, saying it would give the poor “renewed strength to fight poverty.”

“When a bank account is opened, it’s a step towards joining the economic mainstream, ” said Modi, who was elected based on his promise an end to corruption, bring on economic growth and run a more just society.

Tens of thousands of people have applied to open individual accounts since Aug. 15, when Modi announced the campaign, AP reports.

Modi is urging Indian banks to “try your best to ensure that no one is left without a bank account.”

His goal is to sign up 150 million people by 2018.

“There is an urgency to this exercise, as all other development activities are hindered by this single disability, ” Modi stated.

The new accounts will stay open without penalty even if they’re empty, and the federal government is offering $1, 650 in life insurance to every account holder. Dozens of state banks with more than 100, 000 branches countrywide are participating, according to AP.

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