for two years now, a quiet experiment on how to deliver financial services to india’s rural masses has been underway in and around the ancient temple town of thanjavur, tamil nadu.
travel through the villages of pattukottai, thanjavur and kumbakonam and you will see branches — 57 of them — of a local “bank” called pudhuaaru after the local river. it is a recent entrant to this area. the first branch came up in june 2008. these branches, each occupying roughly 500 sq ft, with bright orange walls, with three youngsters sitting behind counters, with four or five rows of bright green wooden benches before the counters, offering loans, insurance and savings products with remittances slated to follow soon, are surprising rural finance professionals with their results.
the complete story here.
Three decades after Independence, most poor Indians still lack institutionalised access to insurance, savings, remittances and loans. The outcomes are predictable. Migrant labour, carrying hard cash when they head back home, run the risk of being robbed. The poor rely excessively on loans to cope with a crisis — accidents, unpredictable weather, sick cattle — though insurance would be more appropriate.
KC Chakrabarty , Deputy Governor of Reserve Bank of India , on how to universalise financial services in the next 10 years.
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Whenever China’s environment is discussed, the narrative that crops up is that its authoritarian government has steamrolled environmental concerns while chasing growth. And so, fittingly, when Jianguo Liu and Jared Diamond rate 15 of the world’s most populous countries on environmental sustainability, China is the second worst with a score of 129 (on a 142 point scale). But, curiously, India stands at No. 4 with 116 points.