Polls round the corner, Jan Dhan Yojana repackaged to draw rural voters

The programme was launched in August 2014 for a period of four years as a national mission for financial inclusion to ensure access of financial services 
Representative photo | Reuters
Representative photo | Reuters

NEW DELHI: In a bid to woo voters ahead of the upcoming elections, the Narendra Modi-led government has decided to make Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) — the Centre’s flagship financial inclusion scheme — open-ended. This means the scheme, launched in August 2014 for a four-year period to give the masses access to bank accounts, insurance and pensions, will continue indefinitely.

“The PMJDY will continue beyond August 14, 2018 (the earlier scheme’s close date) with enhanced benefits... there will be no conditions attached to withdrawal up to Rs 2,000 from the bank accounts. The earlier age limit of 18-60 has also been made liberal by making it 18-65, while the expanded coverage will cover each adult now, ” said Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley here on Wednesday. Terming the scheme a “runaway success”, the FM said the Union Cabinet has decided to double the overdraft facility under PMJDY to Rs 10,000.

Briefing reporters here on Wednesday, for the first time since resuming office on August 23 after a four-month break for undergoing a kidney transplant, Jaitley said the accident insurance cover for new RuPay card holders will also be doubled to Rs 2 lakh.

The Union Cabinet’s decision to make PMJDY more attractive comes at a time when the BJP is bracing to defend its governments in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, where Assembly elections are due in a few months.

Jaitley said women comprise as much as 53 per cent of Jan-Dhan account holders and 59 per cent
accounts are in the rural and semi-urban areas. Eighty-three per cent accounts have been Aadhaar-seeded, with issuance of 24.4 crore RuPay cards, besides 7.5 crore of them are beneficiaries of the direct benefit transfer, he noted.

He said Rs 81,200 crore was deposited in 32.41 crore accounts in four years. About 30 lakh people have so far availed the over-draft facility.

The FM said 19,436 of the 13.98 crore subscribers under the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana, a government-backed accident insurance scheme, sought claims with settlement of Rs 388.72 crore.
Besides, Jaitley said 1.11 crore persons have subscribed to Atal Pension Yojana in the initial run of the scheme in four years.

“Out of the total 51.5 crore bank accounts opened across the world, India alone accounted for 32.41 crore bank accounts opened in four years, which made the PMJDY world’s biggest financial inclusion initiative,” Jaitley said.

Doval briefs Cabinet on Rafale deal, Jaitley rules out JPC probe

NSA Ajit Doval and Secretary, Defence Production Ajay Kumar on Wednesday briefed the Union Council of Ministers on the Rafale deal, providing them with information to counter Opposition allegations. Later, talking to reporters FM Jaitley rejected the demand for a JPC probe on the deal saying, “... to satisfy the ego of an ill informed gentleman (JPC probe) is not an option”

‘Rupee better off’

Jaitley on Wednesday said the reasons behind the fall of the rupee against the dollar were global and there was no need for “panic and knee-jerk reactions”. The rupee declined 17 paise against the US dollar to close at 71.75 on Wednesday. “Most of the other currencies of the world, compared to what it was 4-5 years ago, rupee is better off,” Jaitley said

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