Make banking available to all: Pratibha Patil

Speaking after the inauguration of centenary celebrations of the Central Bank of India, she said banking services should be made available to all.

“No doubt the banking system in the country has grown but it has enormous possibilities of expansion considering that it is still to reach the unbanked areas,” she said.

“Currently, just about 45 percent of the Indian population has access to bank accounts, and there is a low ratio of one bank branch for 16,000 people,” she added.

Patil said the number of branches per lakh of population was 6.33 this March, compared to 25-45 for developed countries.

She expressed concern over the low banking coverage of the large population living in the 600,000 villages in India.

“All these facts indicate the extent to which and the many areas where banks can make a difference. Initiatives like the UID (Unique Identification) project will go a long way to ease the concern of banks pertaining to basic information about their customer and thus giving a boost to banking inclusion,” she said.

Congratulating the Central Bank of India on completing 100 years, Patil appreciated Sir Sorabji Pochkhanawalla for his vision in establishing the bank in December 1911.

“It was the outcome of the vision of Sir Sorabji Pochkhanawalla who by focusing on the needs of the ordinary people sought to work for the economic independence of India.

I am happy to learn that the bank has since then modelled its growth on the lines of its visionary founder, catering with great care to the needs of its customers,” she said.

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