4th NITI Aayog-DRC Dialogue

4th NITI Aayog-DRC Dialogue

(L-R) Rajnikant Patel, Hemant Songadkar, Rajiv Lall and Li Wei

MUMBAI: On October 31, 2018, Asia Society India Centre partnered with State Bank of India, NITI Aayog and India China Economic and Cultural Council to host a high level delegation led by Li Wei, President of Development Research Centre of China for a roundtable discussion on financial inclusion as part of the 4th NITI Aayog-DRC Dialogue. The discussion was moderated by Mr. Rajnikant Patel, former Director of the Bombay Stock Exchange. The speakers included Dr. Rajiv Lall, Managing Director and CEO, IDFC India, and Mr. Hemant Songadkar, Managing Director, Nabsamruddhi Finance Ltd.

Mr. Patel opened the discussion by highlighting the progress achieved by India in its financial inclusion project while acknowledging the challenges ahead. He emphasized the need for knowledge sharing between India and China to complement each other’s efforts due to similarities of being two populous, geographically vast countries with regional disparities in levels of development.

Mr. Songadkar further elaborated on the efforts of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) towards financial inclusion in rural areas to ‘reach the unreached’. NABARD’s work reduced the gender divide by bringing institutional credit to rural women through the SHG model of microfinance since 1992, which started as a pilot of 500 groups and has now grown to 84 lac groups covering 11 crore households countrywide.

Dr. Lall spelled out two key lessons for any financial inclusion exercise to succeed: to include the people at the base of the pyramid by making financial literacy an important aspect of the exercise, and to make the exercise profitable for implementing institutions to develop financial inclusion at scale. He commented on the inability of government mandated efforts to get adequate response, where it becomes an exercise for mere compliance. He applauded the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana and the National Payments Corporation of India for providing financial infrastructure in the country, as also some of the critical regulatory changes and the nationwide implementation of UIDAI’s Aadhaar project.

The members of the DRC elaborated on their strategy of targeted issue management and formulating different arrangements based on region-wise development levels, and ensure environmental sustainability through Green Finance.

As reported by Saanaee Naik, Programme Assistant, Asia Society India Centre.