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

Financial InclusionSubscribe to Financial Inclusion

Did MGNREGS Improve Financial Inclusion?

Utilising household-level data, this paper investigates the impact of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme on financial inclusion. Exploiting the staggered timing of the roll-out of the programme across districts, while controlling for its non-random implementation, it is found that MGNREGS improves financial access. This is confirmed in simple univariate tests as well as in multivariate regressions that take into account several district- and household-level controls. The evidence, however, is less compelling when the use of finance is examined, although there is a differential impact for districts with higher proportion of women. The magnitudes in most cases are quite large and suggest that public works programme can positively influence financial inclusion.

Role of ‘Fintech’ in Financial Inclusion and New Business Models

The convergence of finance and technology to provide financial services by non-financial institutions, popularly known as “fintech,” has come to dominate the financial landscape. Taking stock of this development, its impact and implications for new products, processes and services, including for financial inclusion are examined. The Jan Dhan–Aadhaar–mobile phones trinity provides fertile ground for fintech to permeate to the “last mile.” Notwithstanding its manifold benefits, there is a need to exercise caution in areas such as privacy and ownership of data. In a fast-paced world of rapidly evolving technology and related financial services, regulators have new paradigms to grapple with and therefore, need to be proactive so as to not stifle the growth of this nascent sector.

Revisiting Bank Mergers

The central government’s policy favouring bank mergers assumes enhanced efficiency of the merged banks through economies of scale and scope. An econometric analysis of India’s scheduled commercial banks, however, establishes that in the Indian banking sector, mergers may actually be detrimental to efficiency. This paper argues that public sector banks were set up to serve the welfare needs of the underprivileged and to promote financial inclusion, not to make profits. In the case of bank mergers, economies of scale and scope are being used to veil the promotion of economies of exclusion.

Multiplier Effect of Self-help Groups

This article measures financial inclusion performance on three dimensions--branch penetration, credit penetration and deposit penetration and in the process of quantifying the contribution of self-help groups towards macro-level financial inclusion dimensions, reveals the multiplier effect of SHGs. Since it enables all group members to access savings, credit and other financial services from bank, efforts to promote financial inclusion through SHGs should continue.

Enabling Financial Inclusion

Financial Inclusion Growth and Governance by Deepali Pant Joshi; New Delhi: Gyan Publishers, pp 266,₹750.

Doing More with Less

The current focus on financial inclusion has opened up solutions to reduce leakages in central and state government schemes. For these solutions to have a sustainable impact, deeper issues in public fund management must be addressed. These issues revolve on three key challenges: "first-mile" problems of transferring central and state funds to local implementation agencies in a timely, efficient and transparent manner; "last-mile" problems of sending benefits to beneficiary or vendor bank accounts without delays; and "beyond-the-last-mile" challenges of ensuring rural beneficiaries have adequate access to remote banking services. This paper reviews these three challenges and proposes a new public finance management system, namely, JAM+. The authors believe that these reforms have the potential to reduce India's fiscal deficit by ₹1 lakh crore.

Does Monetary Policy Have Differential State-Level Effects?

The paper examines whether monetary policy has similar effects across major states in the Indian polity. Impulse response functions from an estimated Structural Vector Auto Regression (SVAR) reveal two sets of states: a core of states that respond to monetary policy in a significant fashion vis-à-vis others whose response is less significant. The paper attempts to trace the reasons for the differential response of these two sets of states in terms of financial deepening and differential industry mix.

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