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India – 1 crore women hold PSU bank accounts

Himanshi Dhawan & Pradeep Thakur

NEW DELHI: In the long haul for women empowerment, another milestone has been achieved. For the first time, the total number of women bank account
holders who have been brought under the credit umbrella of the public sector banks has crossed the one-crore mark.

The number of accounts with access to credit grew from 92 lakh in the year ended March 31, 2008 to 1.05 crore on March 31, 2009.

The number refers to just individual beneficiaries. If self-help groups and those dealing with banks in the private sector are added, the number of women beneficiaries would be manifold.

The trend is gathering momentum. Even in the year of downturn in 2008, when all financial institutions were engaged in consolidation, public sector banks (PSBs) added at least 10 lakh new women account holders under their credit facility.

The growth augurs well for the UPA government’s objective to bring at least 50% of all rural women in the country under the credit facility extended by PSBs by linking them through self-help groups (SHGs).

The country’s largest bank, State Bank of India, with over 22.40 lakh account holders in 2009, remains on top of the chart of PSBs that extended maximum credit to women. It was followed by Canara Bank with more than 10 lakh account holders, Punjab National Bank with 8.44 lakh accounts and Indian Bank with 5.50 lakh accounts. Syndicate Bank and Bank of Baroda were the only other banks having more than 5 lakh women account holders under their credit facility.

Though most of the PSBs achieved the government’s target, according to the finance ministry data, as of March 2008 four PSBs — Allahabad Bank, Dena Bank, State Bank of Patiala and IDBI Bank — failed to meet the target set by RBI in earmarking 5% of their net credit to women entrepreneurs. In 2009, State Bank of Patiala and IDBI could not achieve their target.

Besides easy credit flow through PSBs, the UPA government had facilitated micro finance to those women who have not been able to avail of institutionalised banking support through the Rashtriya Mahila Kosh. The government has already announced increasing the Mahila Kosh’s corpus from Rs 100 crore to Rs 500 crore over the next few years for this purpose.

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September 30, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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