ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Misreading the Recommendations

S S Sangwan's (EPW, 26 July 2014) refutation of the Nachiket Mor Committee report, based on a survey in rural Punjab which fi nds that rural residents prefer commercial banks to regional banks, is contested here. It is argued here that Sangwan has misread the recommendations of the committee, which is well aware of the varied banking needs of different populations, and does not emphasise regional banks as a universal solution for greater fi nancial inclusion, as Sangwan claims. The report in fact argues for a mix of banking models supported by technology, in what is termed as "comprehensive fi nancial services".

I read “Bank Preference for Financial Inclusion in Rural Punjab” (EPW, 26 July 2014) by S S Sangwan with interest. The approach and conclusions drawn by the author are problematic and not universally “true for other areas of the country” as claimed. To begin with, Sangwan misreads the Nachiket Mor Committee (NMC) report and ends up misquoting it; second, the article offers a misplaced conclusion.

Uninformed village residents, devoid of varied and full options of banks and banking facilities, are subject to inquiries in surveys to indicate “bank preferences”. Their constrained and guarded opinions are used narrowly by the author to disprove recommendations of the NMC report, to force the conclusion that small branches of commercial banks are the “preferred option” over regional banks for financial inclusion. The NMC report is misinterpreted by Sangwan, and is not about promoting financial inclusion in a conventional form, which has failed so far; it goes beyond, to imbibe global and historical perspectives of financial deepening and aims high – at efficient and comprehensive financial services (CFS) supported by technology.

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