UNITED NATIONS: India is a "nearly 100 percent banked country" that offers its citizens universal access to financial services aimed at spurring development, a UN commission heard Thursday.
In the five month since the universal banking access , Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, was launched, 100 million people have opened bank accounts, Mayank Joshi, a first secretary in India's UN Mission, told the Commission for Social Development.
"These figures are, frankly, staggering," he said. "India is today a nearly 100 percent banked country. This, we expect, will enable demand, growth and development."
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the meeting that quality, not just quantity, must be the scale on which growth must be rated. "We are the first generation that can wipe out extreme poverty," he said. "We are the last generation that can address the worst impact of climate change. Let us reaffirm our commitment to promoting social development and social justice and building a better, more sustainable world for all."
Quoting Prime Minister Narendra Modi's declaration, "Elimination of poverty is fundamental to me; this is at the core of my understanding of cohesive growth," Joshi laid out India's score card and highlighted the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme. He called it "the world's largest" cash-for-work programme and said it ensures 100-days of wage-employment in a financial year to the neediest.
New Delhi has undertaken several other programmes in the areas of housing and shelter, health insurance, employment generation, and family planning, he said. Another programme he mentioned was the Aadhar Identity card, which aims to provide a universal citizens' identity system linked to government services.
Turning to the global situation, Joshi said that while "'Social integration' is critical" it should "not be construed as achieving uniformity." He added, "It needs to respect diversity and promote equal opportunity and participation of all in order to create a 'society for all'. Both targeted and universal approaches in national policies, are key to social development of vulnerable sections particularly, women, children, elder persons and persons with disabilities."
Sustainable development strategies that include a transition to a green economy and use of new technology are needed to face crises facing the world, he said.