Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday strongly defended his pet ‘Jan Dhan’ financial inclusion project, stating that the programme had already shown results by empowering the poor.
Speaking at a felicitation programme organised for him by the State BJP soon after his arrival at the HAL airport here, Modi said bank accounts for four crore families have so far been opened under the scheme, providing them access to banking and credit facilities.
“There were comments that providing zero balance accounts could prove detrimental. But let me tell you that already, people have started depositing money in their accounts. When I last reviewed the project, Rs 1,500 crore had been deposited into Jan Dhan accounts,” Modi said.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had recently warned banks to be more careful, while opening accounts under the Jan Dhan project, stating that a single individual could open multiple accounts, lured by the Rs one-lakh insurance cover.
Modi said the insurance cover for the account holders and medical life insurance of Rs 30,000 would help the poor tide over difficult times. “If a poor person falls sick, sometimes the entire savings of his family goes towards paying hospital bills. The insurance cover will help support the family,” Modi said.
“Should not the poor get insurance?,” he asked the audience, who responded with a resounding “yes”.
Modi said governments should work for the poor and not for the rich. While banks had been nationalised by former prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1969, it had failed to eradicate poverty and eliminate “financial untouchability” in the country, he said.
He said the minimum pension scheme, wherein no pensioner would get a monthly pension of less than Rs 1,000 would be launched on September 30. He said 32 lakh pensioners, who were getting pension below Rs 1,000 per month, would benefit from the scheme, he said.
“Who gives any respect to a man earning a pension of Rs 100 or Rs 200? The person’s family too will not respect him or her, will they?” said Modi, to drive home the point of his welfare measure. Modi said his government would give emphasis to skill development and had even opened a skill development ministry.
“Sixty five per cent of the population is below 35 years. When the world is growing old, we are growing young. It’s a big advantage for us,” the prime minister said.